Jun 8, 2011, 2:22 PM
Sheriffo Kujabi, a narcotics officer attached to the Serrekunda NDEA office, yesterday testified in the multi-million cocaine trial involving nine foreign nationals at the Banjul Magistrate’ Court before Magistrate Taiwo Alagba.
The nine accused persons 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.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charges of conspiracy to trafficking in prohibited drugs, trafficking in drugs, dealing in prohibited drugs, having firearm without authority, importation of firearm without authority, among others.
Kujabi told the court that he recognised the accused persons and was instructed by his commander to obtain cautionary and voluntary statements from the 2nd, 5th and 8th accused persons.
He added that he obtained one voluntary statement from the fifth and eighth accused persons, adding that he also obtained three cautionary statements from the fifth and the eighth accused persons each in the presence of an independent witness, one Malick Joof.
Officer Kujabi further added that he also obtained one voluntary statement from the 2nd accused person in the presence of Malick Joof.
He adduced that he obtained three cautionary statements from the 2nd accused person in the absence of an independent witness.
At that juncture, the Director of Public Prosecutions applied to tender the statements as exhibits, but this was objected to by the defence counsel on the grounds that they are inadmissible, because the accused persons were subjected to severe duress while they were under detention by the security agents.
Counsel Camara added that the right thing that the court should do, when the voluntariness of a statement was challenged, is to conduct a voire dire, and he urged the court to conduct a voire dire.
The DPP, in his response, urged the court to overrule the objection and admit the statements, as the requirements under the Evidence Act have been complied with.
The defence objection was overruled, and the court admitted the statements as exhibits.
The witness continued to adduce that the accused persons admitted the charges at the NDEA, adding that they were brought to the NDEA in connection with the cocaine that was discovered at Bonto village in the West Coast Region.
The case continues.