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In cocaine 9 case PW2 testifies in voire-dire trial

Oct 14, 2010, 12:14 PM | Article By: Sainey MK Marenah & Bakary Samateh

Babucarr Khan an independent witness on Tuesday testified as the second prosecution witness (PW2) in the voire dire trial of the nine accused persons at the special narcotics court of the Banjul Magistrates' Court.

The accused persons are Ephriam Micheal Chiduben, a Nigerian national, Juan Carlos Sanchez, Eric Bottini, Dose Fermin, Juan Carlos Diaz, and Esteaban Zavala all Venezuelan nationals, George Sanchez, a Mexican/Liberian national, as well as Rudy Rasoehamid Gazi and Dennis Wilgo Winter both Dutch nationals.

They were alleged to have been found with two and half tonnes of cocaine, a prohibited drug reportedly worth one billion US dollars at Bonto village in the Kombo East district of the Western Region.

Testifying, Babucarr Khan told the court that he is a carpenter by profession, and resident of No 38 Gloucester Street in Banjul.

"On 28 May 2010, I was in my carpentry workshop at

Gloucester Street
in Banjul when I received a called from the NIA headquarters in Banjul to serve as an independent witness in obtaining the cautionary statement from the first accused, Gazi Rudy Rasoehamid Gazi," he added.

He further told the court that he is not a member of the NIA, neither any of the security agencies.

"After receiving the message, I went to the NIA headquarters to serve as an independent witness to Mr. Gazi," he told the court.

"When I entered the conference hall, I observed that there was a panel and the accused was sitting with the panel. I was introduced to the accused as the independent witness," PW2 further told the court.

One officer Saidykhan, he added, then informed the accused person about the cautionary wording, and he (the accused) freely and willingly agreed and gave his statement.

He further revealed that the accused (Gazi) was not under any pressure, and was not forced or insulted at the time his statement was being obtained.

PW2 added that after obtaining the statement from the first accused, it was read to him and he understood it and signed it, and that he too (PW2) signed as the independent witness.

He identified the said statement in court, which was later admitted and tendered in court as exhibit P1.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel LS Camara, PW2 maintained that he lives at No 38 Gloucester Street in Banjul with the Ceesay Kunda family.

He said prior to 28th May 2010, he never met or knew the accused. "I only came to know the accused person when I was called at the NIA headquarters in Banjul to witness the obtaining of the cautionary statements from the 1st accused, Mr. Gazi," he adduced.

When asked by defence counsel whether he knew where the accused person was detained before being brought to the NIA headquarters in Banjul, Khan in reply said he had never seen the accused person before, and that he did not know where the accused person was detained before he met him at the NIA headquarters.

"I am not aware that the 1st accused (Gazi) was being detained at Mile 2 state central prison, but what am aware of is that I served as an independent witness in obtaining the cautionary statement from him," he stated.

"Prior to obtaining the cautionary statements, I have never been together with the accused person neither knew him," said PW2.

Further quizzed whether he is working at the NIA, Babucarr Khan said he had never worked for the NIA or any other security agency, adding that he stopped at grade 2 at Garba Jahumpa Primary School.

When also asked by the defence counsel whether he served as an independent witness to former IGP Ensa Badjie, Khan said "yes". This question was, however, objected to by the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions.

At that juncture, the case was adjourned to 14 October 2010 for continuation of the hearing.

Meanwhile, the nine foreign nationals also appeared at the high court on Tuesday before Justice Emmanuel Amadi, with their defence counsel LS Camara, who had challenged the ruling delivered by the lower court in Banjul on the issue of jurisdiction.

Camara submitted that his application was to challenge the ruling delivered by magistrate Hilary Abeke, then at Banjul Magistrates' Court, that the narcotics court has jurisdiction to hear the matter, which the counsel disputed.

At Tuesday's court sitting, Justice Amadi said he had not yet received the proceedings from the lower court, and adjourned the case to 1st November for mention.