Nov 26, 2008, 5:15 AM
Following the closure of the prosecution case in the ongoing treason trial involving the former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. Gen. Lang Tombong Tamba and seven others, the defence team have informed the court of their intention to make a "no case to answer" submission.
The prosecution yesterday announced that it is closing its case following the testimony of the last witness.Consequently, the court asked the defence counsel to file their written briefs on or before Friday 7th May 2010, and to serve the prosecution.
The prosecution was also ordered to file a written reply on or before Tuesday 11th May 2010, and to serve the defence counsel. The defence team was given two days to file a reply on points of law, after receiving the prosecution's reply.
The case was adjourned to 14th May 2010, for the adoption of briefs.
Testifying earlier before Justice Amadi, the sixteenth prosecution witness (PW16) told the court that he works at the Gambian Embassy in Guinea Bissau as First Secretary.
According to the witness, on the 16th of December 2009, he was at his office when his ambassador gave him a photo album, and delegated him to take it to the panel of investigation at the detention centre.
"On arrival, I handed over to the head of the investigation, and I returned to my office," PW16 informed the court. He further stated that on 1st March 2010, Lt. Colonel Sano called and informed him that Rui Damas, a Portuguese national and owner of the boat "Mar De Bissau" had returned from Portugal, and he (Lt. Col Sano) had fixed a date to met Rui Damas at Chachu to assist in obtaining a witness statement from him ( Rui Damas).
"I later obtained a witness statement from him in the English language, and it was written by me and I signed it. Rui Damas also signed the statement," the witness told the court.
PW16 further adduced that Rui Damas refused to come to Banjul to testify. He was shown the statement of Rui Damas in court, which he identified. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Richard N. Chenge, then applied to tender the said statement which was admitted by the court and marked as exhibit P26, without any objection from the defence.
PW16 was not cross-examined by the defence counsel.
Consequently, DPP Chenge informed the court that the prosecution has closed its case.
Continuation of Cross-Examination of PW15 by Defence Counsel PC Secka
Q- Did you say PW1 Ebrima Marreh was arrested on the 19th of November 2009 for spying on a security installation?
A- He was arrested at Farafenni Camp on the 19th for spying on a security installation.
Q- My learned friend SM Tambedou asked whether PW1 Ebrima Marreh was arrested on the 19th November 2009, and he made three telephone calls?
Q- Did you investigate to whom Ebrima Marreh made those calls?
A- I can't recall.
Q- When Ebrima Marreh was arrested did the arresting institution take custody of his phone?
A- I was not present during his arrest at Farafenni. I was in Banjul.
Q- In an answer to a question by SM Tambedou, when the 1st and 5th accused persons appeared before a panel, you were in custody of the telephones of the 1st and 5th accused persons?
A- The arresting officers handed over their mobile phones to me for safekeeping.
Q- You also admitted in your evidence in chief that you read the statement of Lt Colonel Yerro Jallow?
Q- Do you remember what Lt Colonel Yerro Jallow said?
A- I don't.
Q- But do you remember in your evidence-in-chief that when Ebrima Marreh was questioned, he said he lied to the authorities in Farafenni. What lie was that?
A- Ebrima said he lied to the Farafenni authorities that he was sent to Farafenni camp by the present Director General of NIA, Former IGP Ensa Badjie, Director of Operation police Jallow, former Crime Management Co-odinator, now the Inspector General of Police, Yankuba Sonko.
Q- Did he mention the former Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Yankuba Drammeh?
A- Not to my knowledge.
Q- You said that a panel was formed to investigate what PW1 said?
Q- Can you tell the court who the members were?
A- DPP Richard Chenge raised an objection to the question on the grounds that it is matter of the National Intelligence Agency, which is a top security organisation. He further noted that the identity of members should not be disclosed, for security reasons.
In reply to the DPP, defence counsel PC Secka said the names of the members could not be disclosed in public, but suggested that he should write them on a paper, and give it to the court. Or the court goes in camera, adding that it is absolutely important to the defence of the accused persons.
Q- When Ebrima Marreh was arrested on the 19th of November 2009, up to the date he appeared before the investigation panel on the 21st November, was he in the custody of the NIA?
A- Yes, my lord.
Q- Is it not strange that someone who upon his initial arrest linked the Director General of the NIA to be investigated by the same NIA?
A- It's not strange.
Q- I am putting it to you that it's no wonder that Ebrima Marreh had to change his statement in 48 hours?
A- I cannot say anything about that, because am not Ebrima Marreh.
Q- What information apart from 'I was lying' did you have to believe, apart from that Ebrima Marreh's statement at Farafenni camp on the 19th November 2009 was a lie?
A- Apart from the lie, all what he said is in his statement.
Q- Do you know that PW1, under cross-examination by HS Sabally, repeated the statement at Farafenni on the 19th November 2009?
A- I don't know.
Q- Ebrima Marreh said when he was arrested he made two calls, one to the 4th and one to the 5th accused persons?
A- I don't know.
Q- I am putting it to you that from the printouts tendered in court, that passed through the NIA, no such calls were made by PW1 to the 4th and 5th accused persons.
A- I am not an expert.
Q- Officer you have been doing this job for 40 years now ? from 1970 to date?
Q- During this period, have you ever investigated statements made by people under arrest?
A- That is the nature of my job. I have investigated a lot of cases.
Q- How long when PW1 appear before the panel, did it take the panel to believe what he said in Farafenni was a lie?
A- There is no duration.
Q- Do you know that contrary to what PW1 said, PW2, Rui Jabbi Gassama, said that the first two meetings took place at the residence of the 3rd accused at Tallinding, whereas PW1 said all the three meetings took place at the 1st accused person's residence. Was the panel able to establish who was speaking the truth? Is it PW1 or PW2?
A- I cannot say anything about that.
Q- Do you know the alleged location of the alleged training camp for the mercenaries?
A- I don't know. I was told that the training was completed, and there was nobody on the site.
Q- Did you enquire from PW2, about the duration of the training, and about the time he gave the information to the NIA about the training?
A- My lord, we did not enquire when the training ended.
Q- After Rui Jabbi made his statements on the 16th and 23rd December 2009, did any member of the investigating panel visit Guinea-Bissau to verify the serious allegations?
A- Not to my knowledge.
Q- I am putting it to you that as the leader of the investigation panel you have to know whether it had existed?
A- The statement of PW2 was that there was training, and it was ended.
Q- Do you know that Rui said a French national of Russian origin, and an American assisted him in the training?
A- That is what he said.
Q- Did the investigating team try to find out who those people are, and to interview them?
A- PW2 said that there was no one at the site; how can we interview them?
Q- Did you ask PW2 what happened to the alleged 300 mercenaries after their training?
A- PW2 said they have dispersed.
Q- To where?
A- I don't know.
Q- So it is correct that the investigating panel did not try to get even a single one, out of the alleged 300 mercenaries?
A- PW2 said there was nobody at the site.
Q- Officer, you want this court to believe that after the training the 300 mercenaries dispersed to an unknown destination?
A- I cannot say anything.
Q- Apart from PW1's evidence, does the investigating panel have any information that you know of, that the 7th accused was present at any meeting at the 1st accused person's residence to plan a coup?
A- If my memory could serve me well, it was only from Ebrima Marreh's statement.
Q- Apart from PW1's evidence, does the investigating panel have any other evidence that you know of that the 5th accused person, Modou Gaye, was in any way involved in coup plot to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Gambia?
A- If my memory could serve me well, it was only the statement of Ebrima Marreh.
Q- Apart from PW1's evidence, does the investigation of the panel reveal any evidence that the 2nd accused, Brigadier General Omar Bun Mbaye, attended any meeting at the residence of the 1st accused to plan a coup to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Gambia?
A- If my memory serves me well, it is only the evidence of PW1.
Q- Apart from the evidence of PW1, did the investigation panel come across any evidence that Lt. Colonel Kawsu Camara participated in any plan to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Gambia?
A- I still maintain the same. If my memory could serve me well, it was only the statement of Ebrima Marreh.
Q- Did you say to this court that when PW1 appeared before the panel, that he mentioned all the accused persons except the 6th accused person, Gibril Ngorr Secka?
Q- I am putting it to you that the only witness to implicate Gibril Ngorr Secka is PW2 Rui Jabbi Kassama?
DPP Chenge objected to this question.
Q- Apart from the evidence of PW2, did the investigation of the investigating panel reveal any evidence that the 6th accused was in any way involved in any plot to unlawfully overthrow the democratically elected government of the Gambia?