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Former Observer MD Taal Appears in Court

Apr 1, 2008, 7:56 AM | Article By: By Modou Sanyang

Dr. Saja Taal, former Managing Director of the Daily Observer newspaper, yesterday testified before Magistrate Kayode of the Banjul Magistrates' Court as the trial of the former State House Press Officer, Mam Sait Ceesay, resumed.

In his testimony, Dr. Taal told the court that he was a part time Lecturer at the University of The Gambia.

"I used to work at the Daily Observer as Managing Director up to November 2007. I know the accused," he added.

Furnishing details of his responsibilities at his former post, Dr. Taal said:" My Job entailed the management of the paper, both financial management, personnel management and also the content. The Managing Director is responsible for the publication of all stories," he stated, noting that he could recall having been to cover a story at Kanilai on 5thSeptember 2007 and that on his return he received a text message on his mobile phone around Serekunda. "I passed the mobile to Ousman Darboe who read the text out to me. The text read 'Alex Dacosta appointed Director of Press and Public Relations Office of the President.' The text was signed underneath Sait."

He revealed that he then asked Mr Darboe to ring the accused so that they could have more information on the story, but the call couldn't go through.

"At the time I received the text, the accused was working as the Director of Press at the office of the President," Dr. Taal adduced, adding that he then decided to publish the story because he felt it was news worthy.

Dr. Taal went on to explain the mode of Daily Observer's receipt and publication of stories emanating from State House. "Considering the privileged position the Daily Observer holds with the office of the president we sometimes received information in the form of fax, E-mail and sometimes the physical presence of the person bringing the news in the case where we cannot cover the story ourselves," he said, noting that the story was published on the following day, 6thSeptember 2007. "We also published stories according to the suitability of the story whether it would make front pages," he concluded.

The relevant Daily Observer issue was later tendered in court as exhibit before the case was adjourned to 7thApril 2008.