Feb 11, 2020, 5:30 PM
Baluta Kanyi, a Warrant Officer (WO2) in the Gambia National Army yesterday testified as prosecution witness number four (PW4) in the ongoing treason trial involving Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba and seven others, at the Banjul High Court.
In his testimony, WO2 Kanyi said that he (PW4) knows four of the accused persons: Lang Tombong Tamba, Omar Bun Mbye, Lamin Bo Badgie and Kawsu Camara, among the eight accused persons.
Mr Kanyi narrated that on the 3rd November 2009, "I received a call from the provost marshal that I (PW4) was to go and de-kit Lang Tombong Tamba (1st accused person)."
According to PW4, a team was then formed comprising ordinates, military police and intelligence officers.
"Major Kuluteh Manneh, 2nd Lieutenant Alhagie Camara and myself went to Lang Tombong's house", he said, and explained to him that their mission was to collect all the military items from him (1st accused person).
PW4 testified that Lang Tombong then went inside and brought the military items, which were all listed down on the de-kit form.
Mr. Kanyi said that when the items were listed on the de-kit form "Major Kuluteh Manneh, 2nd Lieutenant Alhagie Camara and I myself all signed the form, including Lang Tombong Tamba."
Mr Kanyi told the court that the items were later packed, and taken to defence headquarters in Banjul. PW4 also informed the court that "from there we took the items back to the store. But three items were not recovered." He testified that those items include a ceremonial suit, diplomatic passport and military identity card.
PW4 identified the de-kit form that was shown to him in court, and the form was tendered and marked as an exhibit in court without any objection from defence counsel.
Police detective Lamin Cham was another prosecution witness who testified in this trial. He was designated by the court as prosecution witness number five (PW5).
Mr. Cham told the court that he is from Sukuta, and is a police officer with the rank of Detective Inspector, and claimed to know all the accused persons.
According to PW5, "I led a team of security officers who are part of the investigators. I led them to the residence of Lang Tombong in Bijilo and that in Kololi and we conducted a search in both premises."
He added, "We went with ex-CDS himself, and on arrival at 1st accused's Bijilo residence, Lang Tombong led us to his rooms."
Mr. Cham further adduced that Lang Tombong then led them to his bedroom. "We found a carton which the 1st accused claimed was sent to him from his former officer. When we went into the content of the said carton, we discovered about 20 military boots, twelve files with military correspondence, various military ranks, that is, ranging from three captain ranks, two major ranks, one Lt. colonel rank, State Guard emblem, ten ceremonial buttons.
Mr. Cham also told the court that they further proceeded to 1st accused's Kololi residence with Lang Tombong himself. "Lang Tombong led us into the rooms. In one of the rooms where a search was conducted, we found 100 live-rounds of a single-barrel gun, two pairs of British camouflage uniforms, one French green military uniform, ten camouflage short-sleeves of T-shirts, ten other military uniforms, six other inner-shirt of a military uniform, and one military scarf."
PW5 said that all these items were recovered from the 1st accused's Kololi residence, and were taken to NIA headquarters were they are kept in a store.
He testified that the cartons in which these aforementioned items are packed were also labelled as containing items from the former CDS's residence.
According to PW5, the former CDS accepted that the items were from his residence and, as a result, he (the 1st accused) wrote a statement in respect of the said items. He pointed out that the ex-CDS did not explain why those items were there in his house.
"The items in the cartons were kept in the NIA store, and it was not tampered with until yesterday when the cartons were brought to court."
The cartons were tendered without any objection by defence counsel, and marked as exhibits P2 and P2 (a).
When the cartons were admitted, the court ordered that they should be opened, and be inspected by Lang Tombong Tamba.
"Lt General Tamba informed the court that the cartons that contained the items were not from his house."
"I am satisfied with the items found in my house, except for four small cartons marked BB hunting cartridge."
According to the first accused, "those small cartons were not from my residence," he said. "In fact, the witness mentioned single barrel (SB) cartridge," he said, adding that "the single barrel found in my house was packed in one pack and not in pieces."
Lawyer Tambedou, counsel for Lang Tombong Tamba, told the court that this procedure " is not known to me."
"I want the cartons to be tendered and follow by the items in the cartons."
The court was irritated by the objection made by counsel, as the statement made by counsel did not go down well with the court.
Justice Amandi retorted, "Leave me alone. I am guided by God. I know you are a big man; you are the President of the Gambian Bar, but I am not cheating anybody."
At this point, the court requested for the statement that the 1st accused person made in respect of the cartons, and its contents. The statement of the first accused contained "single barrel (SB) cartridge which 1st accused person acquired during his service for hunting purpose."
The witness maintained that four cartons of cartridges were found in the 1st accused person's residence.
Lang Tombong was invited to explain, and he told the court that "I have no cause to disagree, since I surrendered the guns."
The court ruled that in the interest of justice all the items that are in order are marked as exhibit P2(C) and the court marked the disputed four cartons of cartridges as "disputed cartons."
The court further admitted the 1st accused person's witness statement in respect of the two cartons as P2C that was dated 14th January 2010.
Police inspector Sainey Ndure was the 6th prosecution witness (PW6). Mr. Ndure testified that he is a police officer with the rank of an inspector, and claimed to know all the accused persons. According to PW6, he was among the team investigating the alleged coup plot. During the course of the investigation, I obtained cautionary and voluntary statements from Lang Tombong Tamba, Momodou Gaye, Gibriel Ngorr Secka and Yousef Ezzeden at different dates, and the statements were read to the four accused persons."
"On the 21st of November 2009, I obtained the cautionary statement and particulars of Lang Tombong Tamba. It was read to him, in the presence of an independent witness, in the English language."
"I told the 1st accused person that he was not forced to say anything in the statement, and that anything he says may be used against him in court," Mr. Ndure testified.
PW6 told the court that the 1st accused person accepted the statement, and he signed, and the independent witness also signed the cautionary statement.
Inspector Ndure further said that Lang Tombong was also given a cautionary form, and that he (the 1st accused person) wrote his own statement, "which I endorsed."
The statement that PW6 identified in court through his signature was tendered in court without any objection from the defence counsel, and was admitted as an exhibit and marked as P3.
"On the 14th January 2010, I obtained four voluntary statements from Lang Tombong Tamba, after having his particulars. The cautionary wording were read to him (the 1st accused person) to his satisfaction, and he signed. The independent witness also signed the voluntary statement." PW6 told the court that each of the voluntary statements was read to Lang Tombong.
The statements were admitted without objection from the defence counsel for the 1st accused person, and marked as exhibit P4 (a to d).
PW6 also told the court that on the 21st of November 2009, he obtained the cautionary statement and particulars of Momodou Gaye, the 5th accused person, and that it was read to him in the presence of an independent witness in the English language.
"I told the 5th accused person that he was not forced to say anything in the statement and that anything 5th accused says may be used against him in court."
PW6 testified that the 5th accused person accepted the statement, and he signed. The independent witness also signed the cautionary statement.
Inspector Ndure further adduced that Momodou Gaye was also given a cautionary form, and he (the 5th accused person) wrote his own statement, "which I endorsed."
PW6 identified the statement in court through his signature. It was tendered in court without any objection from the defence, and was admitted as an exhibit and marked P4.
PW6 said that on the 14th of January 2010, he obtained two voluntary statements from Momodou Gaye, after having his particulars. The cautionary wordings were read to him (the 5th accused person) to the level of his satisfaction and understanding, and he signed. The independent witness also signed the voluntary statement, he added.
PW6 told the court that each of the voluntary statements was read to Momodou Gaye. The statements were admitted without objection from the defence, and marked as exhibit P6 (a to b).
PW6 told the court that he did the same on 7th January 2010 with Ngorr Secka, the 6th accused person. Inspector Ndure further adduced the 6th accused person was asked to write his own statement. "But the 6th accused person said he is having a bad hand, and that I should write for him (the 6th accused person), "which I did, and I (PW6) endorsed."
PW6 also testified that he went through the same process on 8th December 2009 with Yousef Ezzeden, the 8th accused person, and that they went through the same process.
According to PW6, Yousef Ezzeden wrote his own statement and "I endorsed it ". The statement was identified by PW6 in court through his signature, and was tendered in court without any objection from the defence, admitted as an exhibit and marked P9.