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In treason trial: Africell's IT and Billing Manager testifies

Apr 28, 2010, 1:35 PM | Article By: Sainey M. K. Marenah

The treason trial involving the former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba and seven others, proceeded yesterday with the testimony of the eleventh prosecution witness, one Hussainou Muhammaded Diab-Haman, before Justice Emmanuel Amadi at the High Court in Banjul.

PW 11 told the court that he lives in Kotu, and that he is the IT and Billing Manager of the GSM company Africell.

He said that in December 2009 "we were requested to make print outs of certain subscribers' numbers using Africell line, roughly about 10 numbers. I was requested to make more printouts in December and April."

PW11 added that the NIA had requested for the printouts, which were printed using seven different computers.

According to the witness, they normally make printouts for post-paid subscribers, which is done once in a month and the owner often gets the copy.

"Pre-paid printouts are normally printed with a request from either the police or the NIA. Information is fed from the cellular system to the switch center and during the course of the printing, there is no human intervention; it's only the computer that works," he informed the court.

When asked by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Richard Chenge, whether he could recognise the printouts, the witness replied in the affirmative.

"They normally have an Africell seal and signature on it," he stated.

At that juncture, the DPP rose and applied to tender the printouts as exhibits, but defence counsel Sheriff M Tambedou objected.

"My lord, I have no objection, except Exhibit A 19, the telephone numbers: 7462904 and 7336607," he submitted.

According to counsel, these two numbers are not relevant to the case. As he put it, the witnesses had spoken in the court about telephone numbers, and about calls received from the accused persons.

"No witness has given any evidence in this case, in respect of calls made or received by the second and seventh accused persons, and those two numbers relate to the second and seventh accused persons, as shown by the notice of additional summary of evidence, dated 23rd April 2010".  

Tambedou also told the court that "telephone calls from 7th accused person are not stated in the indictment and, therefore, the telephone numbers of the 2nd and 7th accused persons are not relevant." He urged the court not to grant the DPP's application.          

Senior defense counsel Pap Chayassin Secka also objected to the DPP's application on the grounds that the notice of additional summary of evidence, and additional lists of exhibits, listed only the two numbers as lists of additional exhibit.

Hawa Sisay Sabally, the counsel for the eighth accused person, did not raise any objection to the DPP's application.

In reply to the submissions made by the defence counsel, DDP Chenge said the charges against the accused persons involved conspiracy and networking, adding that the additional summary of evidences show conspiracy.

He adduced that evidences can be obtained from oral evidence or documentary evidence, and can be used as oral evidence.

DPP Chenge cited section 3 of the Evidence Act to back his submission.

In his ruling, Justice Amandi said he had listened to both parties carefully during their submissions, and to the objections made by the defence about the tendering of the said printouts.

The trial judge overruled the defence objections, and subsequently the telephone printouts were marked as Africell printout exhibit P19.

Below in question and answer format we report on the cross-examination of the PW11 by defence counsel Sheriff M Tambedou:

Cross-examination by Lawyer Tembdedou

Q-         You said the request you received was from the NIA?

A-         Yes, that is correct.

Q-         Did you receive the request from the office of the DPP?

A-         Yes.

Q-         The request from the DPP, did you give him the printout?

A-         Yes, to the NIA.

Q-         The printout you gave to the NIA, was it a hard copy or CD?

A-         Yes, both CD and hard copy.

Q-         Can the CD be edited?

A-         It cannot be edited, unless it was a copy.

Q-         The prepaid number you received, did you identify the subscriber?

A-         No.

Q-         One of the prepaid numbers for which the request was made was 7854500?

A-         Yes.

Q-         Do you know the subscriber of this number?

A-         I was told that it is Ebrima Marreh.

Q-         Look at exhibits P19, what do you have in your hand?

A-         I have printout number 7854500?

Q-         For which month?

A-         July 2009, October 2009 and November 2009, outgoing and incoming calls.

Q-         When you said debited account zero?

A-         It means the transaction was not charged.

Q-         In what duration would a subscriber not be charged for a call?

A-         It is when calling another Africell subscriber and either caller had a bonus credit or is calling one of our free service lines.

Q-         When is a subscriber charged?

A-         When a subscriber has no bonus credits, and when calling a non-Africell number.

Q-         If a subscriber calls a non-Africell number, when does it charge?

A-         When a call is picked up by the person he called or by the answering machine.

Q-         Answering machine is a recorder of massage?

A-         It's correct.

Q-         What is the minimum and maximum time of recording of the answering machine?

A-         I can't tell exactly, but for Africell the minimum is one second; the maximum depends on how long the subscriber records the message.

Q-         If a subscriber calls another subscriber and leaves a recording on the voice mail, will it appear on the printout of the subscriber?

A-         It appears on the outgoing subscriber, but I am not sure about the receiving subscriber.

Q-         Looking at the printout, can you tell whether a calling subscriber spoke to a receiving subscriber?

A-         I cannot tell.

Q-         Is there any calls from the numbers: 9966206, 7854500 on the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th November 2009?

A-         No.

Q-         Look at the outgoing calls of 7854500?

A-         No call was made on the 19th November 2009 from the Number 7854500.

Q-       What about the 17th of November 2009, was any call made?

A-       No.

Q-       Can you find any call made from 7854500 to 7775888?

A-       Yes.

Q-       When was the call made?

 A -       7th of Nov. 2009 at 12:44 pm.

Q-       For a recording to take place on the voice mail, the calling subscriber does not need to speak.

 A-      Yes.

Q-       You said you were told, who was the holder of 7854500. Were you told of any other pre-paid subscriber from the request of numbers received from the NIA?

A-      The number I can recall was 7875888. I overheard of that subscriber, Bombardier.

Q-       Do you know who is Bombardier or do you recognise him by face?

A-         No, but I can guess (pointing to the 4th accused person in the dock).

Q-       If you see the printout of the numbers the NIA requested you to print, will you recognise it?

A-       Yes, but not all. Then cited these numbers: 7462904, 7751967,7366607, 7366077, 7766007, 7766177, 7366007, 7905350, 7775888, 7750333.

Q-       Look at the printout for 7366007. The request was from the NIA?

A-       I don't know.

Q-       The subscriber who made the call; his/her calls did not appear on the printout?

A-       It's possible, in rare circumstances.

Q-       On what percentage level?

A-       Two percent

Q-       Is it possible for two subscribers to call each at the same time?

A-       Not to my experience.

Q -        Do you know what a call forwarding is?

A-       If I am trying to call you, and you have forwarded all your calls to another number; that is call forwarding.

Q-       If a subscriber A calls subscriber B and subscriber B diverted or forwarded his number to subscriber C what number is the printout of subscriber A shows?

A-         A calling B

Q-         In December 2009, did you give the NIA a printout of the same numbers?

A-         I believe so.

Q-       Was there any difference in the two printouts?

A-         It is possible, but I'm not sure.

Cross-examination by Lawyer Hawa Sisay-Sabally

Q-         Can you tell the court the subscriber or the holder of number 77750333; what type of subscriber?

A-         Post paid.

Q-         Did you receive a sermon to come and testify?

A-         No document was given to me.

Q-         You got a call from the NIA and DPP?

A-         Yes.

Q-         That is in respect of the printout?

A-         Yes.

Q-         You did not personally do the printout?

A-         Personally, no!

Q-         It is correct that Africell spends a lot of money in public to attract subscribers?

A-         Yes.

Q-         And yet nobody from the public can walk in and get a printout?

A-         Yes, that is correct.

Q-         Does your company owe confidentiality to the public?

A-         Yes.

Q-         Do you also intercept calls?

A-         No.

Q-         Did the subscriber who holds number 7750333 authorise you to give out a printout?

A-         No.

Q-         How safe is any subscriber of Africell after today, knowing what is happening here?

A-         It's very safe.