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Tamba, Fofana opt not to open defence in treason trial

Feb 24, 2011, 10:52 AM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

Lawyers representing Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba, former chief of defence staff, and Rear Admiral Sajor Fofana, ex-chief of naval staff, yesterday told the Special Criminal Court that the defence has opted not to open their defence, but instead they chose to rely on the evidence adduced by the six prosecution witnesses.

This development came up yesterday when the two accused persons were expected to open their defence on the allegations against them in connection with the 21st March 2006 aborted coup attempt allegedly masterminded by ex -CDS Col. Ndure Cham.

The charges include conspiracy to commit treason, treason and concealment of treason, which both have denied.

The accused persons’ no-case-to-answer submission filed on their behalf by their attorney was overruled by the trial judge Justice J.E. Ikpala, who called on them to open their defence.

However, they have opted not to open defence, and have chosen to rely on the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses.

At yesterday’s court proceedings, defence counsel Sheriff Marie Tambedou, representing the first accused person, Lang Tombong Tamba, told the court that General Tamba will not be giving evidence, and would rely on the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses.

He told the superior court that the evidence also included the statement of the 1st accused, which was tendered during the proceedings by the prosecution led by DSL Daniel O. Kulo, while urging the court to give the defence the opportunity to address the court either orally or in writing.

Lawyer L.K Mboge, the attorney for the second accused, Sarjo Fofana, also informed the court that his client has decided not to open his defence, and would rely on the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses. He said he would address the court either orally or in writing.

The Director of Special Litigations at the Attorney General’s Chambers, Daniel O. Kulo, also told the court that the prosecution would argue either orally or in writing.

Justice Ikpala subsequently ordered both parties to argue orally, and then adjourned the case till 14th March 2011.

Readers would recall that the prosecution in order to prove a prima facie case against the accused persons had called in six prosecution witnesses, including Major Momodou Alieu Bah, who was convicted for treason, but was subsequently pardoned and reinstated in the army, Modou Manneh, security operative, Timothy Sanyang, a senior military officer, Momodou Sowe, a police officer attached to the Major Crime Unit of the police force who narrated how he obtained cautionary and voluntary statements from the accused persons, ex-Captain Bunja Darboe, a life sentence serving convict, and Yahya Darboe, another life sentence serving convict, who were convicted for their roles in the 2006 coup plot.

During proceedings, the prosecution led by Daniel O. Kulo also tendered the cautionary and voluntary statements of both accused persons as exhibits.

General Tamba, it would be recalled, was convicted and sentenced to death on 15th July 2010 for treasonable offences alongside seven other men by the High Court in Banjul.

Admiral Fofana was the president of the General Court Martial that convicted and sentenced 10 men to various prison terms ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment, for their roles in the 2006 abortive coup plot.

Tamba and Fofana yesterday were brought to court with legs shackled and hands cuffed amid tight security.