Jun 3, 2010, 12:57 PM
The jailed former chief of defence staff of the Gambia Armed Forces Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba, and ex-chief of naval staff Rear Admiral Sarjo Fofana convicted and sentenced for treason, have filed an appeal at the Gambia Court of Appeal against their conviction and sentence by the high court in Banjul, their lawyers confirmed to The Point yesterday.
The former military chiefs were sentenced to 20 years in prison on four counts of treason in connection with the 21st March 2006 abortive coup attempt, alleged to have been masterminded by the former chief of defence staff, Colonel Ndure Cham.
Lang Tombong Tamba, it would be noted, is currently serving a death sentence along with seven other men, after being convicted in connection with a 2009 coup plot.
Tamba and Fofana were sentenced on count one, which was conspiracy to commit treason, to 20 years imprisonment and on count two, which was treason, to another 20 years imprisonment.
Lang Tombong Tamba was also sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on count three, concealment of treason, and on count four, concealment of treason, to another 10 years imprisonment.
Counsel Sheriff M. Tambedou told The Point in a brief interview that both men have already filed their appeals separately at the Gambia Court of Appeal, since June 2011, but the court is yet to hear the appeal. This was also confirmed by counsel Lamin K. Mboge.
According to Tambedou, the appeal was based on five grounds.
The grounds of appeal for Tamba, among others, indicated that the trial judge erred in law when he failed to consider as an issue in the trial, whether the appellant could be convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of MA Bah (PW1) to convict the appellant.
The grounds of appeal further stated that the judge erred in law when he did not afford the appellant a fair hearing, and that the learned judge also erred in law when he relied on the evidence of PW5 to convict the appellant.
The fourth grounds of appeal stated that the judge erred in law when he held that the appellant on becoming aware of the coup plot did not inform the appropriate authority statutorily provided or the president and the commander- in- chief of the armed forces, and that he deployed troops in complicity and in consonance with the coup which error caused him to convict the appellant of the offences of concealment of treason.
The final grounds of appeal stated that the verdict against the appellant is unreasonable, perverse and cannot be supported having regard to all the evidence.
Tamba, already serving a death sentence after conviction for a 2009 coup attempt, was tried alongside Sarjo Fofana and jailed on four counts of treason in connection with the 21st March 2006 abortive coup, allegedly masterminded by the former chief of defence staff, Colonel Ndure Cham.
The charges preferred against the former senior military officers included conspiracy to commit treason, treason, and concealment of treason, charges which both men denied.
The prosecution in order to prove its case against the accused persons called six witnesses including Major Momodou Alieu Bah, who was convicted for treason, pardoned and subsequently reinstated in the army; Modou Manneh, a security operative; Timothy Sanyang, another senior military officer; and Momodou Sowe, a police officer attached to the Major Crimes Unit of the police force, who narrated how he obtained cautionary and voluntary statements from the accused persons.
Also called by the prosecution as witnesses were ex-captains Bunja Darboe and Yahya Darboe, both convicted in connection with the 2006 abortive coup attempt, and now serving life sentences.
During proceedings, the prosecution tendered the cautionary and voluntary statements of both accused persons as exhibits through its witnesses.
At the closure of the prosecution’s case, defense counsel S.M. Tambadou and L.K. Mboge, opted to file a ‘no-case-to-answer’ submission before the trial judge, which was overruled.
Tamba and Fofana were then ordered to open their defence.
However, the lawyers for the accused persons informed the court that their clients would not open their defence, and decided to address the court orally.
Both the prosecution and the defence lawyers addressed the court, which adopted the oral addresses, and set the stage for judgment.
Sarjo Fofana was the president of the general court martial that convicted and sentenced ten men to various prisons terms, ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment, for their roles in the 2006 abortive coup plot.