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‘Ex-IGP Badjie torture allegations not proven’

Jun 29, 2011, 1:04 PM | Article By: Sainey MK Marenah

The allegation of torture to obtain his cautionary statement at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) made by former police chief Ensa Badjie has not been proven beyond a shadow of doubt, Justice Emmanuel Amadi of the high court in Banjul ruled yesterday.

Ensa Badjie had earlier told the court, in the main trial, that he was seriously tortured during the process of obtaining his statements at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), allegations which prompted the court to order a trial within a trial to ascertain the truth.

He is facing trial under a 51-count indictment alongside two top military officers, namely Major Kuluteh Manneh, former commander of the military police, and Lt Colonel Mam Matarr Secka, former head of the military police.

They were arraigned at the High Court on several charges, including conspiracy to commit a felony, obtaining money by false pretence, economic crime, obtaining goods by false pretence, official corruption, sedition, abuse of office, among others, and have all denied the charges.

In his ruling, Justice Emmanuel Amadi said there is not enough proof to say that the accused person was tortured while his statement was being obtained at the National Intelligence Agency.

He subsequently admitted and marked the said statement under question as a prosecution exhibit.

The mini-trial otherwise called voire dire came to an end after 11 months of trial all geared towards ascertain the said allegations, and the court ruled that the element of torture was not proven.

Shortly after the ruling, the deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, S.H. Barkun, called his next witness, Ballo K. Jobe, a police officer attached to Police headquarters in Banjul, to testify in the main trial.

He told the court that he obtained a voluntary statement from the 1st accused person wherein the charges were read to him, which the accused denied, adding that it was obtained in the presence of an independent witness who signed, and the accused also signed the statement.

The witness recognised the said statement in court, and the prosecutor applied to tender the statement, which was also admitted and marked as a prosecution exhibit without any objection from the defence counsel.

Under cross-examination by defense counsel B.S. Touray, the witness told the superior court that he was enlisted into the Gambia Police Force in 1989.

“Who constituted the panel at the NIA conference?” B.S. Touray asked the witness, and in reply Jobe said: “I was informed by the IGP to join the panel.”

He admitted that the panel was given terms of reference, when counsel posed another question to him.

He also admitted that the 1st accused had a confrontation with Sillaba Samateh, who was the first prosecution witness, at the NIA conference hall, but could not recall when the confrontation took place.

“Who was present?” asked the defence counsel, and in reply he said: “All the panel members including Omar Cham, the panel head.”

Justice Amadi, before adjourning the case till 1st July 2011, expressed his disappointment with the slow pace of the trial, while challenging both parties that he would be hearing the case on a daily basis starting from 1st July 2011.

Justice Amadi said the mini-trial has lasted for 11 months, which he said is not good because he wants to get off the case as soon as possible.