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In cocaine 9 voire-dire trial PW1 testifies

Oct 8, 2010, 1:09 PM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

Karamo Saidykhan, the first prosecution witness in the voire dire trial, yesterday testified before the special narcotics court at the Banjul Magistrates' Court presided over by Principal Magistrate Emmanuel Nkea.

This development follows the recent application made by Lamin Camara counsel for the 1st accused, Rudy Rasoehamid Gazi, based on the Evidence Act.

Karamo Saidykhan, a police officer, told the court that on 28 May 2010 at the NIA headquarters in Banjul, he obtained cautionary statements from Rudy Rasoehamid Gazi in the presence of an independent witness, one Babucarr Khan.

"I read the said cautionary statement to the accused person in the English language and he agreed and signed it, and the independent witness also signed the two cautionary statements," he added.

The witness identified the said cautionary statements in court and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Richard N Chenge, then applied to tender the statements in court, which were admitted as exhibits, without any objection by the defence.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel LS Camara, the witness told the court that he has worked as a security officer for five years eight months now, and is attached to the police Serious Crime Unit at the police headquarters in Banjul.

He added: "Prior to 28th May 2010, I never knew or met the accused. I only came to know him when he was brought to the NIA headquarters in Banjul for his cautionary statements to be obtained."

When asked by counsel Camara whether he knew where the accused person had been detained, before being brought to the NIA headquarters in Banjul, Saidykhan replied that he has 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 in Banjul.

"I am not aware that the 1st accused Mr. Gazi is being detained at Mile 2 state central prison," he added.

"What I'm aware of is that the 1st accused Mr. Gazi joined us at the conference hall at NIA headquarters to obtain his cautionary statements," officer Saidykhan stated.

"Prior to obtaining his cautionary statements, I have never being together with the accused person, neither knew him," said PW1 in the voire dire.

Further asked by the defence counsel Camara whether Mr Gazi is the one who asked him to write his statements for him, Saidykhan in reply told the court that the 1st accused asked him to write his statements for him, in the presence of an independent witness, one Babucarr Khan.

When quizzed further by counsel Camara whether the said independent witness, Babucarr Khan, is working for the National Intelligence Agency or is just an independent witness, PW1 told the court that Babucarr Khan is just an independent witness, and that he never met him nor knew him.

"I sent somebody to go outside the NIA headquarters to call anybody to witness the obtaining of the cautionary statement from the first accused, Mr. Gazi," he concluded.

It would be recalled that the nine accused persons, who are all foreign nationals, were recently arrested with two and half tonnes of cocaine reportedly worth one billion dollars at Bonto village in Kombo East district of the Western Region.

They 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.

The case was adjourned to 12 October 2010 for continuation of hearing.