Aug 12, 2014, 9:40 AM
Karamo Saidykhan, a police officer attached to the police Serious Crime Unit in Banjul, and a member of the investigation panel, yesterday testified in the trial involving Alhagie Jobe, deputy editor-in-chief of the Daily Observer newspaper, and one Mbye Bittaye, at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul before Justice Emmanuel Nkea.
Alhagie Jobe was arraigned on a five-count charge of making an act with seditious intention, seditious publication, and possession of seditious publication, giving false information to a public servant, and reckless and negligent, while Mbye Bittaye was arraigned on a single count of making preparation to do an act with seditious intention.
Designated as the third prosecution witness (PW3), Saidykhan, told the court that he recognised the accused persons, and that he received a telephone call on the evening of 8 February 2013, for him to report to the NIA on 9th February 2013.
He said he reported to the NIA, where a panel was constituted, comprising police and NIA officers, and that very morning they were briefed that a staff of the Daily Observer newspaper, Alhagie Jobe, was caught with a false front page Observer copy in an attempt to help one Major Lamin Touray, and the headline was “Major Lamin Touray on the run.”
“We started to investigate, and during the course of the investigation, we invited staff of the Daily Observer newspaper to shed light on the matter, so as to verify whether it was a common practise there,” he said.
“During an interview with one of the staff of the Observer whose surname is Sallah, he said he was one time called by one Mbye Bittaye, who wanted to help a friend living in the UK to secure asylum,” he added.
He said according to Sallah, he told Mbye that was illegal, and based on that they invited Mbye to confirm the story and during their interview with Mbye, they were made to understand that the story was true.
“Mbye accepted that he once made a call to the Observer to request for such on 5 March 2013, and Mbye was invited. I also invited an independent witness in the name of Ebrima Fatty,” the investigator told the court.
The witness stated that he read over the cautionary wording to the 2nd accused, Mbye Bittaye, and Mbye accepted to give a statement, but said he could write his own statement.
“I gave him a pen; he wrote and signed and the independent witness also signed.
“Mbye was charged and later accepted the charge preferred against him, and I endorsed it and I also recorded a voluntary statement from him,” he stated.
He identified the statements in court and the prosecution applied to tender the statements in evidence as exhibits.
However, the defence counsel, S. Gaye, objected to the tendering of the voluntary statement on the grounds that it was irrelevant and involuntary, and urged the court to reject it.
The court in it’s ruling admitted the cautionary statement, and rejected the voluntary statement.
Under cross-examination by defence counsel E. Jah, the witness adduced that he was not present when the 1st accused was arrested.
When exhibit D was shown to him and asked whether this was the document found on the 1st accused, the witness replied in the affirmative.
“I was made to understand that Jobe issued a false document, and all I can say here is that it was found on Jobe.”
It was put to him that Jobe was the deputy editor-in-chief, and he answered in the positive, but added that Jobe confirmed to them that he was appointed as the deputy editor-in-chief, but he was acting as the editor-in-chief.
He added that Jobe told them that he (Jobe) was the only person who was in contact with Major Lamin Touray, and he first received a telephone call from Major Lamin Touray and later there was e-mail communication.
“I cannot remember seeing the 1st accused with injuries at the panel. I cannot confirm whether the 1st accused statement was obtained under duress. I did not investigate the then MD of the Daily Observer because, at that time, Jobe never mentioned the name of the MD during the course of the investigation,” he adduced.
The case continues today.