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More revelations in treason trial

Apr 30, 2010, 3:19 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah & Modou Sanyang

The lead investigator into the alleged coup plot involving the former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba and seven others, yesterday continued his testimony at the High Court in Banjul.

Continuing his testimony before Justice Emmanuel Amandi, the 15th prosecution witness said Rui Jabbi Kassama told them that he was assigned by Ngorr Secka, the 6th accused person, to procure arms in Guinea Bissau.

According to the witness, Rui said he made contact with one Trawally for transaction of arms, but things had never materialised.

He further testified that Rui told them that during another meeting at the Samaritan Restaurant, Ngorr Secka was with Kukoi Samba Sanyang so as to see the explosives.

And when they saw the explosives, they decided that they would transport them to The Gambia, and that the ship that should bring the arms was anchored at a place called Kachi.

P15 adduced that after receiving this information, on the following day, they travelled to Kachi to see the ship. He said the name of the ship is 'Mare De Bissau'.

"We came to know of the ship through the same source (Rui Jabbi Gassama), and the place it anchored. We also came to know the owner of the ship through Rui, and the owner of the ship is a Portuguese national, Rui Damas."

He further adduced that they went with one security officer, whom they met at the detention centre in Bissau, to seek clearance to see the ship. He said they saw the ship, and they were able to interact with the engineer of the ship, one Philip, who informed them that the owner had travelled to Portugal.

"We boarded the ship with the help of the security, during which photos of the ship were taken by one of our team members. We departed back to Bissau and, prior to our return to The Gambia, we handed over the witness statement form to Guinea-Bissau authorities," he told the court.

According to PW15, "on the 18th of December 2009 with the help of the Guinea Bissau security officer, Lt. Colonel Sano, we visited the Samaritan Restaurant, where we interacted with the proprietor of the said restaurant, Muhammed Nyang, a Senegalese national who informed us that ..."

At this stage, senior defence counsel PC Secka rose and raised an objection, on the grounds that what Muhammed Nyang informed them is inadmissible, and it is an offence on the rules of hearsay. He then cited Section 19 of the Evidence Act, to back his objection. Then he quickly told the court that he was withdrawing his objection for the time being.

Then PW15 continued testifying, further stating that the restaurant owner informed them that he knows Rui Jabbi Kassama, and that he frequently visits the restaurant on a daily basis to have refreshments with Gambians. He adduced that a photo was also taken of the said restaurant prior to their departure by a team member.

He said Rui also told them that in another development, Ngorr Secka and Kukio Samba Sanyang asked him to provide them with four-wheel-drive vehicles for transporting some dissidents and mercenaries in the sub-region to The Gambia. They were to travel by land and the route to follow was: "From Bissau to Gumulumabu down to Tamba Counda, then Kaolack via Barra and finally in Banjul."

He said prior to these activities, Rui told them that Ngorr Secka had called Colonel Ndure Cham, and that at one time he (Rui) was able to talk to the former Chief of Defence Staff and Bo Badjie, and he told them about all the activities in Bissau.

"Some of the mercenaries are Gambian dissidents," the NIA officer told the court.

"We finally came back to The Gambia alongside Rui Jabbi Gassama and Kabirou Saidy and, upon arrival we decided to interrogate Ngorr Secka, during which he said he was the deputy head of mission at the Gambian Embassy in Bissau, and that he knows Kabirou Saidy as his errand boy, and one Omar Camara, former National Assembly Member in one of the constituencies in the Upper River Region, whom he said, normally spent the night with them from time to time at Bissau," PW15 said.

Ngorr Secka, he added, told them that he knows the Samaritan Resturant and that his first visit there was with Willy Joof, the former Gambian Ambassador to Guinea-Bissau. The second visit there was to buy fast food. The witness said when confronted with Rui he (Ngorr) denied knowing Rui Jabbi Gassama.

He said an identification parade was conducted on the 21st of November at the National Intelligence Agency premises. He said Ngorr Secka was called and informed about the parade, and asked whether he wanted to change his clothes, and he (Ngorr) said there was no need.

He said, prior to the identification parade, Rui was incommunicado adding that the parade was held near the investigation grounds, where 13 people were paraded including Ngorr Secka.

PW15 said Ngorr was asked to position himself, and then Rui was brought, and he Rui) identified Ngorr Secka by placing his hand on his (Ngorr's) shoulders, and a photo taken.

Asked by the DPP as to who were those on parade, the witness replied that they form the technical unit and mechanic unit of the NIA, and added that none of those on parade had access to or interacted with Rui.

Ngorr Secka and Rui were later interrogated, during which process Ngorr stated that he does not know Rui Jabbi, but could have been identified by Rui because he was public figure, the witness added.

"On the 24th of December two separate identification parades were also conducted, and Bo Badjie was invited with 13 others. Rui was again brought, and he identified Bo Badjie by placing his hand on his shoulders, and photos taken," PW15 further told the court.

After the parade, the witness said he asked Bo Badjie whether he had any observations such as repeating the parade, but he (Bo Badjie) said even if identified, its because he is a public figure, and there is no need to repeat the parade.

PW15 further told the court that another parade was conducted concerning the former CDS Lang Tombong Tamba and Rui was again brought, and he identified Lang by raising his hand and touching him. Later Rui and Lang were confronted and Lang denied knowing Rui.

PW15 said he asked Lang Tombong Tamba whether he had any observations about the parade, and Lang Tombong Tamba stated that he was featured on Guinea-Bissau TV on several occasions during a series of visits there. He said that Lang Tombong Tamba also said it would not be a surprise to him if Rui identifies him.

The NIA officer further revealed that statements were later obtained from all the accused persons and witnesses concern and list of their contacts, including Kukio Samba Sanyang.

He added that a request was made by the NIA to Gamcel, Comium, Africell, and Qcell for their respective printouts, of the accused persons' phone calls. PW15 added that this was done at different intervals, starting from November 2009.

He said the printouts and photos were made available to the panel.

According to the witness, after two to three weeks, the panel received information that Kukoi Samba Sanyang has made some comments on a web site (www.allGambia.net) with the headline 'Rui Jabbi Gassama was handed over by Guinea Bissau authorities to the Gambian authorities by government of Malam Bekai Sanha."

He said upon receiving this information, "we took up the matter with the Director of Operation, and I was asked to liaise with the IT unit of the NIA to download the information, which I did from the computer."

Asked by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Richard R. Chenge, whether he can recognised the document, the witness replied in the affirmative.

He added that the document was downloaded at the NIA IT Unit using good working computers.

The DPP then applied to tender the said document as an exhibit, which was marked by the presiding judge as exhibit P25 without any objection from the defence team.

Cross Examination Of PW15 by Defence Counsel SM Tambedou

Q- Can you tell the court the procedure you adopted when you arrested the accused persons?

A- I was not among the officers who effected arrest on the accused persons.

Q- Do you know the date of their arrest?

A- I could not recall.

Q- When the accused persons were arrested, do you know what happened to the properties that were found on them?

A- I did not know.

Q- Do you know what happened to their mobile phones?

A- Yes, My Lord, I have the mobile phones of Lang Tombong Tamba and Modou Gaye, which were handed over to me.

Q- What about the mobile phones of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th accused persons?

A- I can only remember that of the 1st and 5th accused persons.

Q- While under arrest were they allowed access to their mobile phones?

A- No, they are not allowed.

Q- If a printout shows a call that was made after the arrest, such could not have been made by the accused persons?

A- I am not an expert.

Q- You said you are the leader of the investigation team?

A- Yes.

Q- You said you found the copy of the Daily Observer in possession of Rui Jabbi Gassama?

A- It was handed over to us by the officers of Guinea Bissau, who arrested Rui Jabbi Gassama.

Q- Rui confirmed to you that he got the newspaper in The Gambia?

A- Yes, he confirmed to the panel that he got it in The Gambia during one of his visits to The Gambia.

Q- What did Rui say to the panel about the newspaper?

A- Rui said he bought the newspaper.

Q-You would agree with me that Rui has seen the face of the 1st and 3rd accused in the newspaper?

A- Yes.

Q- When you held an identification parade for the 1st accused, what was Rui identifying?

A- He was identifying him.

Q- Your visit in Guinean Bissau, did you visit the alleged training camp in Bissau?

A- No.

Q- Did you gather any evidence of this training camp?

A- No.

Q- You said you obtained the contact numbers of the accused persons and witnesses, how did you obtain the telephone number of Kukoi?

A- From Ebrima Marreh and Rui Jabbi Gassama.

Q- Did you call this number listed for Kukoi?

A- No.

Q- Did you try to confirm whether this number belongs to Kukoi?

A- We did not confirm.

Q- During investigation did you obtain statement from Yankuba Drammeh, former Deputy of Chief of Defence Staff?

A- Yes, a statement was obtained from him.

Q- Was his telephone number taken?

A- I have no idea.

Q- What kind of statement was obtained from Yankuba Drammeh?

A- Witness statement.

Q- Why did you not obtain his telephone number?

A- I did not obtain his statement.

Q- Did you obtain statements from any of the accused persons?

A- No, not my role.

Q- But you wrote all their contact numbers?

A- Yes.

Q- I am putting it to you that the telephone numbers of the former Deputy Chief of Defence Staff are 9979977 and 9994111.

A- I don't know. I never came across these numbers.

Q- You said you found it necessary to make these printouts of the accused persons' numbers, because there was a series of contacts between the accused persons and witnesses, that's why they requested the printouts?

A- The information was from Rui Jabbi Gassama and Ebrima Marreh.

Q- When you received these printouts, what did you do with them?

A- They were checked.

Q- Did the panel find out whether there was communication between the accused persons and the witnesses?

A- That is not my role.

Q- As the head of the investigation, was it brought to your attention?

A- I could not recall.

Q- Did the investigators find any use for the printouts?

A- That was why the printout was requested.

Q- You said Ebrima Marreh was interrogated by the panel in your evidence-in-chief; were the answers recorded by the panel?

A- Is not to my knowledge; I did not record it.

Q- As the head of investigation team, did you assign anybody to record the answers.

A- I cannot recall.

Q- Did Ebrima Marreh inform the panel that he spoke to any of the accused persons?

A- I did not find out, but it might be.

Q- I am putting to you that none of the accused persons ever spoke to Ebrima Marreh on the telephone.

A- I cannot ascertain.

Q- Ebrima Marreh was arrested on the 19th of November 2009?

A- Yes.

Q- According to exhibit P22, he made three calls after he was arrested.

A-Ebrima Marreh was arrested on the 19th November 2009, in Farafenni. What transpired at Farefenni, I did not know.

Q- Did you find out who PW1 was calling after his arrest on the 19th November 2009?

A- I did not find out.

Q- After the panel's receipt of exhibit P22, did the panel find out who Ebrima Marreh was calling after his arrest on the 19th November 2009?

A- Is not to my knowledge, and not my role.

Q- I put it to you that Ebrima Marreh did not call any of the accused after the 19th November?

A- I cannot ascertain.

Q- According to exhibit P23, Ebrima Marreh had another number 7089477.

A- Yes, exactly.

Q- According to exhibit P22, you have a number listed for the 2nd accused, 7366607.

A- Yes.

Q- Telephone numbers: 7366077, 7366607, and 7766167 do not belong to any of the accused persons?

A- I cannot say anything.

Q- Outside this case, did you know the accused persons?

A- Prior to this case, apart from the 8th accused person, I personally knew the rest of the accused persons.

Q- Do you know whether the accused persons, prior to this, knew each other.

A- I have no idea.

Q- Do you know whether the 1st accused had a working relationship with the 2nd, 3rd and, 4th accused persons.

A- I only know they were all serving members of the Gambia Armed Forces.

Q- Did your investigation reveal that the 1st accused, apart from being a CDS, he was a member of other bodies?

A- That has nothing to do with the investigation.

Q- Do you know that the 1st accused was the FIFA-GFA security officer and the 5th accused was his assistant?

A- I did not know.

Q- Do you know as the FIFA-GFA security officer, the 1st and 2nd accused persons were regularly in contact?

A- I have no idea.

Q- Do you know that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th accused persons served under the 1st accused in the Armed Forces?

A- Yes, I know they served under him.

Q- Do you know that the 2nd accused served in the Armed Forces as Director of Operations and Training?

A- I did not know.

Q- I am putting it to you that the 2nd accused took responsibility as Deputy CDS in the Armed Forces.

A- I am in the NIA; I did not know what had transpired in the Armed Forces.

Q- I am putting to you that when the 2nd accused assumed the responsibility of Deputy CDS, he was in contact with the 1st accused and other Armed Forces.

A- I did not know.

The hearing continues today.

The hearing continues today.