Jul 31, 2009, 4:05 AM
Major Kuluteh Manneh, the former military police commander, indicted alongside ex-police chief Ensa Badjie and Lt Col Mam Matarr Secka, yesterday testified at the High Court as the second defence witness, in the trial within a trial over the voluntariness or otherwise of the cautionary statement obtained from Ensa Badjie.
Ex-IGP Badjie and the two senior military officers were arraigned at the high court under a 51-count charge including conspiracy to commit felony, obtaining money by false pretence, economic crime, obtaining goods by false pretence, official corruption, sedition, abuse of office, among others. They have denied the charges.
Ensa Badjie had earlier claimed 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.
Major Manneh in his testimony told the court that he is currently detained at Mile 2 prison, since the 2nd March 2010, adding that he knows Ensa Badjie.
"On 10th March 2010, I was sleeping when I heard a knock on my cell door. I was asked whether it was Kuluteh Manneh, and I replied in the positive," he told the court.
"My cell door was opened by one Seedy Kinteh, who is presently here in court. I saw three officers standing at the door, one of them Principal Officer Ismail Colley and Alagie Jobe, who was in civilian dress at the time."
Manneh added that the officers asked him to follow them to the main entrance, with which he complied, adding that at the entrance, they recorded his name in diary for departure.
"I was then escorted by the prison officers to the prisons headquarters, where I found three NIA officers, two of whom I recognized as Korka Bah and Babucarr Sallah. I greeted them at first and they told me it was not time for greeting. I was asked to board a car, which I also did. They drove me to the NIA headquarters in
Manneh said that both of his hands were cuffed at the back, while inside the car, adding that at the NIA his hands were still cuffed.
"At the NIA, I was asked to disembark from the vehicle, and I came out of the vehicle. I saw one Omar Cham, said to be the head of the panel, who told me 'welcome to the NIA headquarters'. Cham asked me if I know why I was at the NIA, and I replied 'No'," Manneh added.
He said he was then taken to the conference hall by Korta Bah and Babucarr Sallah.
"They came back, and took Ensa Badjie to the NIA that night, and were told to bring Mam Matarr Secka from the prison to the NIA office."
"When I looked back, I saw Ensa Badjie but I could not remember the time because it was at night, and I was without a watch. I also saw Mam Matarr Secka, when he was brought to the NIA," he further told the court.
Manneh said he was later taken back to the Mile 2 prison.
Under cross-examination, state prosecutor AM Yusuf asked Manneh how many times Ensa Badjie was taken to Mile 2 and he (Manneh) replied: "I did not know, because I was not responsible for his coming and going."
He also told the court that he did not know the time when they were brought before the panel, because it was at night and could not remember the time, adding that he did not know what transpired between Badjie and the NIA at the conference room.
Major Manneh said he only saw Ensa Badjie outside the conference room.
After ending his testimony, defence counsel B.S Touray announced that the defence would call the next witness in the mini trial.
Justice Amadi then extended hearings to 31st May and 7th and 9th June, 2011 respectively.
Meanwhile, the criminal trial involving ex-officials of the National Drug Enforcement Agency failed to proceed as expected before Justice Amadi, due to the prosecution witness being indisposed.
The deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, S.H Barkun, yesterday told the court that the prosecution witness was sick, and was seeking for an adjournment.
PC Secka, who held brief for both lawyers L.K Mboge and K. Sanyang, did not raise an objection to the application for an adjournment.
The case was then adjourned till 23rd May 2011.
Readers would recall that former NDEA Executive Director Ibrahim Bun Sanneh, Karamo Bojang, his assistant, Ousman Sanneh, former NDEA Director of Operations, Seedy Bojang, former NDEA accountant and Ms. Marie Sanneh, are facing trial under a 30-count charge.
The charges include conspiracy to commit a felony, stealing by person in public service, aiding and abetting, unlawful possession of firearms, unlawful possession of live ammunitions, concealment and destroying of evidence, official corruption, abuse of office and committing economic crimes, obtaining money by false pretence, making documents without authority and forgery.