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Defence challenges witness testimony in Ebrima Jawara & Co trial

Oct 20, 2016, 9:52 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

Defence counsel Mene yesterday cross-examined one Yerro Saidy, a police officer who is a witness, in the ongoing criminal trial involving Ebrima Jawara and three others.

 The other accused persons are Dr Alasan Bah, former cooordinator of Rural Finance Project, Sulayman Manneh, an accountant of the said project and one Hassan Bah.

When the case was called before Justice Eunice Dada of the Banjul High Court, lawyer Mene announced his representation for Mr Jawara, while lawyer Hawa Sisay-Sabally appeared for Mr Bah, lawyer A.J. Njie appeared for Mr Bah and held briefs for lawyer Segga Gaye, defence counsel for Mr Manneh.

“Mr Saidy you said you received the copy of the audited report through the office of the Inspector General of Police?” 

“Yes”, answered the witness.

Responding to questions, the witness told the court he was not the head of the investigative panel.

He said ASP Ceesay at the time was the head of the panel, and Ceesay is now a Supretendant Ceesay.

The witness further adduced that the panel constituted six members and, after their investigations, the report was attached to the case file and sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers for advice.

He said there was advice from the AG’s Chambers.

Asked by defence counsel Mene whether he has a copy of the said advice from the AG Chambers, the witness responded in the negative, but added that the report was an original copy which the panel signed.

Asked whether it had a cover letter, the witness responded in the negative.

Further asked whether the panel had interviewed the 1st accused, the witness responded in the positive, saying the panel interviewed the 1st accused person twice.

He said the first was in the presence of the panel, and the second was in the presence of an independent witness and the accused person’s lawyer.

Asked about the name of the lawyer of the first accused, the witness responded that it was Mr Drammeh.

“I am putting it to you that Mr Drammeh was never present in any interview?” 

“He was there,” responded the witness.

The witness said as far as the panel of investigation was concerned they investigated from April 2008 to December 2015.

Asked whether the panel received the audit report for April 2008 to December 2010, the witness responded in the positive.

Asked whether it was correct that the project would have one coordinator at a time, the witness replied in the positive. 

“During the course of your work, were you able to ascertain that the accused person was not appointed as the project coordinator from April 2008 to August 2010?”  

“Yes, he was not.”

“The first accused person took over the assignment of Rural Finance Project on 2 November 2010?”

“That’s not to my knowledge,” responded the witness.

“Do you want this court to believe that in the course of your investigation you did not determine when the first accused took over at the Rural Finance Project?” 

“We know that he was appointed October 2010, but we don’t know when the office was handed over to him.”

“It is correct in order for your panel to be able to establish who was responsible for what; it is important to know the various coordinators at a time?” 

“Yes, it is important to know the time of their appointment.”

“In your evidence, you said the accused persons claimed that their fuel allowances were approved by the project steering committees. Which accused person said that?”

“All the accused persons.”

 “Your panel did not believe it because there was no document to attest to it?” 

“Yes, and even if there was any document, the panel will not believe it.”

“Did you as an investigative panel find out whether it is the project steering committee that in fact approves it?”

“During the course of the investigation the project steering committee was not in town.”

At this juncture, the case was adjourned until 14 November 2016, at 11a.m.