May 3, 2010, 11:50 AM
The criminal trial in the cocaine case involving nine accused persons continued yesterday with the cross-examination of the first prosecution witness, Momodou Lamin Kebba, the alkalo of Bonto village.
Continuing his testimony under cross-examination by defence counsel Lamin Camara, the Bonto alkalo told court that he often sits at the Bantaba anytime or whenever he has free time.
He said that he could not ascertain the distance between the Bantaba and the main highway, but one could see passing vehicles on the highway, and recognise somebody you knew before.
According to the alkalo, the whole store compound was fenced with barbed wire and an iron door, and that one cannot stand outside and looked into the store premises.
PW1 added that it is a double iron door, and there is a small door for people to pass into the store.
When asked by the defence counsel whether he ever entered the store premises, PW1 responded in the affirmative, saying that he once entered the premises in 2010 with Pepe, who is said to be at large, but could not remember which month.
He added that this was when the store was completed, together with the Arabic Islamic school the 1st accused built for the villagers.
When further quizzed by counsel LS Camara, whether he (PW1) ever went inside the store to see for himself what was happening there, PW1 said he never went inside the store to see for himself.
The defence counsel further asked PW1 at what point he said he saw the underground hole in the building, and PW1 said at the early stages of the project.
The witness was then asked by the defence counsel whether he (PW1) said he saw, when they were building this underground, that there was water below the underground.
At that juncture, before the witness could respond, the DDPP rose and said he was objecting to the question on the grounds that PW1 did not say he saw water; that what he said was there was water coming out from below the underground.
He said to allow the witness to answer this question would tantamount to expressing an opinion and, therefore, urged the court to disallow the question or ask the defence counsel to reframe it.
Responding to the DDPP's objection, LS Camara told the court that the state's objection was baseless, and was trying to mislead the court.
He added that PW1 had said categorically before the court that the underground was collecting water.
According to counsel Camara, the witness had told the court that he saw the underground hole at one time when they were building it.
He posited that this is a legitimate question, and that the office of the DDPP is not responsible for the questions the defence should ask, but only the court could say.
At this stage, the case was adjourned to 23rd September 2010 for ruling.
It would be recalled that the nine accused persons, sometime in month of May 2010, at Bonto village in the Western Region and diverse places were arrested with two and half tonnes of cocaine amounting to one billion dollars.
The nine accused persons are Ephriam Micheal Chiduben a Nigerian national, Juan Carlos Sanchez, Eric Bottini, Dose Fermin, Juan Carlos Diaz, and Esteaban Zavala all Venezuelan nationals, George Sanchez a Mexican/Liberian national, as well as Rudy Rasoehamid Gazi and Dennis Wilgo Winter both Dutch nationals.