Feb 25, 2016, 9:58 AM
The trial involving Sheikh Dawda York, Ebrima Kebbeh, Demba Sowe, Kemo Fatty, all Gambians, and Oumie Saffiatou Jallow and Alpha Kanteh, both Guineans, proceeded on 26 August 2014 before magistrate Tabally of the Kanifing magistrates’ court.
When the case was called, Sergeant 1781 Kinteh called his witness, Biagi Tunkara, to testify.
The witness told the court that he lives at Fajara ‘F’ section and is a communication officer for Africell.
He said he recognised the accused persons, adding that he knows one Muhammed Tunkara who is his elder brother.
He adduced that between 21 December 2013 and 30 January 2014, he had something to do with the accused persons.
Mr Tunkara added that some time in October 2013, he received a phone call from his elder brother, Muhammed Tunkara, who resides in the UK, and informed him that he had received a phone call from Dawda York, proposing to him a business which involved gold dust.
He said his brother asked him to make inquiries about all the paper work and the fees to be paid, which he did.
He further testified that he furnished his brother the information he received, adding that after a couple of days, his brother called back and said he would be coming to The Gambia to meet Dawda York on 21 December 2013, for the proposed business.
Mr Tunkara added that his brother eventually came, on 21 December 2013, and stayed at Cape Residence.
In the morning, his brother called Dawda York in his presence and informed him of his arrival.
After two days, his brother met Dawda York, and that he saw Dawda York at his brother’s apartment.
A day after, his brother met Saffaitou Jallow, Buba Camara and Kemo Fatty at the B & KK Enterprise which is located at Kairaba Avenue, adding that B & KK Enterprise is an office run by Ebrima Kebbeh, the third accused person.
He further narrated that a day after that, he went back to B & KK Enterprise office with his brother and uncle, one Muhammed Lamin Kebbeh, adding that was the first time he met Ebrima Kebbeh, Demba Sowe, Kemo Fatty and Saffiatou Jallow.
He said Saffiatou Jallow told them that Ebrima Kebbeh was doing the transfer of the gold from Guinea to The Gambia, adding that Saffiatou told them that Demba Sowe loaned them $7,000 to transfer the gold to The Gambia.
Mr Tunkara further stated that his brother demanded to see the gold dust, adding that Demba Sowe then brought a black suitcase with three bags they said contained gold dust.
He said the suitcase and the bags were opened in his presence, adding that some pictures of the said gold dust were taken by him and his brother.
Mr Tunkara adduced that his brother asked Saffiatou what would happen next, while they were being escorted by Buba Camara and Kemo Fatty who were serving as agents.
He stated that Saffiatou told his brother the price of the gold dust, adding that his brother told Saffiatou that he was not told to come to The Gambia to buy gold, but was told by Dawda York to facilitate the paper work and customs tax for the gold to be taken to Dubai where he has his contacts.
He further testified that Ebrima Kebbeh told them that he had to discuss the price with the seller, Saffiatou, before Ebrima Kebbeh could charge them for his commission to prepare the documentation and customs tax.
He stated that his brother said it was fine, and they proceeded with Saffiatou downstairs for the price she would be giving for each kilo.
Mr Tunkara said Saffiatou started with $35,000 per kilo, but agreed on $30,000 per kilo and the total cost was $1.5 million, adding that his brother asked Ebrima Kebbeh how much he would charge for the paper work.
He said Ebrima charged his brother 6 per cent which was equivalent to $90,000.
He added that later Ebrima said he would make it 5 per cent which was equivalent to $75,000.
Mr Tunkara told the court that his brother told Ebrima that he would get back to his partner, after which his brother and his partner decided that they would test the gold before they could make any payment for the paper work.
He said Saffiatou had demanded that $30,000 should be advanced to her before the goods were taken to Dubai, adding that initially his brother came for only a week and they could not test the gold within a week and his brother said he was going back to UK.
He added that the arrangement with the accused persons was not possible, adding that his brother was convinced to stay longer because Dawda York told him that the goods would be tested, and his brother then stayed.
Mr Tunkara narrated that after the one week, his brother went with them and came back, and told him that they had tested the goods, adding that after the testing, his brother came back with two receipts which were issued to him by Ebrima Kebbeh for the documentation.
He said one of the amounts was $10,000 and the other was $3,000, adding that he had seen the two receipts.
One of the said receipts was identified by him after it was shown to him.
The prosecuting officer, Sergeant Kinteh, applied to tender the said receipt.
Defence counsel, Moses Richards, rose and objected to the tendering of the document.
He said the receipt was issued to Muhammed Tunkara but not the witness, adding that no proper foundation was laid. He urged the court to reject the receipt.
Lawyer Gomez associated himself with the objection made by Richards, that the document must come from proper custody.
He argued that it should have been tendered through Muhammed Tunkara, and urged the court to reject the document.
Lawyer Marong also associated himself with the objections made by his colleagues.
Sergeant Kinteh, arguing on points of law, cited the Evidence Act, and urged the court to accept the said document.
Magistrate Tabally subsequently ruled that for a document to be admissible, there must be a proper foundation which was not made.
The court therefore rejected the said document.
Biagi Tunkara continued his testimony and said that after these payments, his brother made other payments, adding that between 1 January 2014 and 15 January 2014, he accompanied his brother to Ebrima’s office where instalments were made to Ebrima Kebbeh.
He said at one point, his brother asked Ebrima to see the documentation he had made only to see a declaration form, and that his brother decided to send the said declaration form.
Sergeant Kinteh then applied for an adjournment, which was granted.
The case was adjourned to 4 September 2014.
Meanwhile, the related case involving Oumie Saffiatou Jallow, Kemo Fatty, Sheikh Dawda York, Musa Bah (at large), Mansa Bah, Cherno Amidou Savage, Ousman Sowe, Abdou Camara (at large), and Alpha Kanteh could not proceed before magistrate Tabally on 26 August 2014.
When the case was mentioned, Lawyer Moses Richards said his client had sent some medical papers for a lab test results, which was given to him by the accused’s brother.
Chief Inspector Touray then applied to withdraw the previous charge and to substitute it with a new one.
The defence team did not raise any objection, and his application was granted by the court.
But because of the absence of the 7th accused, the new charge sheet could not be read to the other accused persons to take their pleas.
The case was adjourned to 4 September 2014.