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Prosecution closes case in Ex-IGP and co mini trial

Aug 26, 2010, 12:42 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

Babucar Khan, the second prosecution witness (PW2) in the trial within a trial, to establish the voluntary nature of the cautionary statement obtained from ex-police chief Ensa Badjie, Tuesday testified at the high court in Banjul before Justice Emmanuel Amadi.

Khan was called by the prosecution to testify in his capacity as the person who served as an independent witness, when the said cautionary statement was obtained from Ensa Badjie, at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Headquarters.  

When the trial resumed on Tuesday, one of the questions the defence put to Khan was to ask him whether he (PW2) also served as an independent witness in the case of Bun Sanneh and co. However, the judge overruled the question.

Conseuently, defence counsel BS Touray then told Justice Amadi that he must be recorded, in the interest of fair hearing.

Also, in an unusual development at the court on Tuesday, both Ensa Badjie and his co-accused, Lt. Col Mam Matarr Secka were heard simultaneously shouting at the top of their voices, when Counsel BS Touray cross-examined the witness.

They were heard declaring that the independent witness "was not there," that "he was not present."

Meanwhile, Babucarr Khan told the court that he served as an independent witness, when the cautionary statement was being obtained from the 1st accused, Ensa Badjie.

He said he resides in Banjul, and that he is a carpenter. He added that he is self-employed and that he has never been employed anywhere. 

The witness said he recognised the 1st accused as the former IGP. "I used to see him on TV, he said."

He further told the court that "Jawo Keita met me at around Arch 22, where he introduced himself to me as Jawo Keita, and he also asked my name."

"He requested me to serve as an independent witness at the NIA office, which I did. I went there into the NIA conference room, where I found six officers seated around the table, together with the 1st accused," he told the court.

The 1st accused, the independent witness added, was at the time normal, and that Jawo Keita then called one officer, who is identified as Jobe, who also introduced himself to him and to the 1st accused in order for him to serve as independent witness, which he said, the 1st accused accepted.

"Jobe then took papers, and informed the 1st accused about my presence as the independent witness, and told me that the 1st accused was not forced, abused or induced in obtaining the statement."

Jobe, Khan added, "explained everything to the 1st accused, and he agreed and his statement was recorded, and my name was recorded by Jobe as the independent witness, and later the 1st accused signed, and I also signed."

He further adduced that Jobe gave papers to the 1st accused in order to write, and that Jobe told him that whatever he said will be written and nothing will be added or omitted.

"As the 1st accused was talking, Jobe was recording the statement, and after that he handed the said statement to the 1st accused to read, which he did and confirmed. I signed, and he signed," PW2 in the mini-trial further testified.

The deputy DPP M. Abdullahi then showed him the said statement, which he recognised, and the deputy DPP applied to tender the statement as evidence in the mini-trial.

The independent witness told the court that the said statement was obtained voluntarily, and that he also believed that the 1st accused was neither maltreated nor abused, when the statement was being obtained from him.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel BS Touray, Mr. Khan admitted being born in Kuntaya.

"Was this the 1st time you went to the NIA," asked the counsel, and in reply, the witness said "Yes".

He also told the court that he has entered the NIA office up to three times (in the past), when counsel asked if this was not the first time he has entered the NIA.

"Under what circumstances did you enter the NIA," asked the defence counsel, and in response, Khan said there are other cases, besides Ensa Badjie and co., adding that "the NIA have my number, and they can call me."

"Is it correct that you served as an independent witness in the case of Bun Sanneh and co.", counsel asked, but this question was overruled by Justice Amadi.

It was then that defence counsel BS Touray told the court that he wanted to be on record, in the interest of fair hearing.

However, the witness, further testified admitting to have served as an independent witness in the case of Bun Sanneh and co., but denied being used in the trial of Lang Tombong Tamba and co.

Counsel also asked Khan to explain how he was spotted in the Bun Sanneh and co. case, but the trial judge insisted that he would not record that.

"Do you not find it strange that you were the independent witness in all these cases," counsel continued, and the witness asked, "Which cases?"

The defence counsel cited the case of Bun Sanneh and co. and Ensa Badjie and co., to which Khan replied, "No".

"I am putting it to you that you are an informant to the NIA, and you are on their payroll," counsel went on, but the witness insisted that he was neither an informant nor is he in the payroll of the NIA.

"You want this court to believe that all this time you have wasted, you were never paid," counsel asked, and the witness denied being paid by the NIA.

"Do you have a workshop as a carpenter," asked counsel, and the witness said, "Yes, at New Jeshwang," but could not explain the exact location of the place, as counsel continued to pose more to him.

He said he has a boss who is the owner of the workshop, and that they are renting at the workshop premises.

"What is the name of the landlord," counsel asked, but the witness said he would not disclose the name of the landlord, as according to him, he would not be happy to see his name published in the newspapers.

Khan also told the court the statement of the 1st accused was obtained at 8pm, but could not ascertain the time when the 1st accused was escorted from Mile 2 to the NIA office.

Counsel put it to the witness that the 1st accused was physically tortured, as blood was oozing from his nose, but Khan insisted that was not true.

The case was then adjourned to 7th October 2010 following a defence counsel request.

The ex police chief and co are facing multiple charges including sedition, abuse of office, official corruption, obtaining goods by false pretence, obtaining money by false pretence, economic crime, among others.