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VP’s chief of protocol cross-examined in Sabally trial

Apr 22, 2015, 10:17 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

Senior defence counsel AB Gaye yesterday cross-examined the chief of protocol at the office of the Vice President, Musa Sinyan, in the economic crime case involving the former Secretary General and Minister for Presidential Affairs, Momodou Sabally, before Justice Amadi of the Special Criminal Court in Banjul.

The defence counsel asked the witness whether he is a civil servant, and the witness replied in the affirmative.

“Around May 2014, the accused was the Secretary General and Minister for Presidential Affairs.”

“Yes,” said the witness.

“The protocol section is part of the Foreign Affairs.”

“Yes,” said the witness.

“The head of protocol is or was Mr Jobarteh.”

“Mr Jobarteh is the Director General of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said the witness.

“You told the court that you and the accused shared the same hotel in Johannesburg. Who else was in the same hotel with you?”

“I was in the same hotel with the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mamour Jagne, the Minister of Higher Education, Abubakar Senghore, the former UTG Vice Chancellor, Muhammed M.O. Kah, and Ousman Keita, a photographer at the VP’s office,” the witness told the court.

“You told this court earlier that you communicated the time to the accused. What time did you communicate to him?”

“7 a.m.,” said the witness.

“I will remind you that you said part of your responsibility is the movement of the delegates. When you went out of your room to the reception of the hotel, did you see the accused?”

“No,”said the witness.

“Did you call his room?”


“Did you ask the hotel receptionist about the accused?”

“No, I did not.”

“Why did you not call his room?”

“My responsibility was to inform them of the time to leave the hotel.”

Justice Amadi intervened at this stage. He said the accused “is a big man” and could not be compared to a protocol officer.

He said the witness said it was not his responsibility, and they did not expect the witness to drag the accused out.

“Out of concern for you delegates, why didn’t you ask the receptionist about the accused?” counsel asked.

“I did not ask,” replied the witness.

“When you went to the hotel of VP from your hotel, did you go alone or you went with other delegates from your hotel?”

“I went with VP’s photographer, Ousman Keita.”

“I put it to you that you were supposed to drive in the same car with the accused to the VP’s hotel.”

“All the ministers were allocated a car, and I was not supposed to drive in the same car with the accused.”

“When it was the time to leave and you realised that one of the delegates was missing, did it not concern you?”

“He was informed of the time.”

However, counsel insisted that he was talking about the need for the witness to be concerned.

At that juncture, the DPP stood and said counsel was harassing the witness.

The witness then said at the VP’s hotel, efforts were made to get in touch with the accused, but to no avail.

“I put it to you that at no time did you call the accused, when you were at VP’s hotel.”

Justice Amadi attempted to explain the statement to the witness, but counsel said Amadi should leave the witness to answer.

Justice Amadi said it was the first time the court was trying to explain something to a witness, and that this should not be misconstrued.

The witness insisted that he made all efforts to contact the accused.

“I am putting it to you that part of your evidence is a lie,” counsel said.

“I am under oath; so I cannot lie,” the witness responded.

“On 11 August 2014, you made a statement at the NIA. In that statement, did you say that when you were at VP’s hotel you made efforts to reach the accused?”

“It is not in my statement,” the witness said.

“I am putting it to you that what you said about the accused is not true, and it is what we called an afterthought.”

“It is not an afterthought.”

“You said other than the inauguration of Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki Foundation, you are not aware of any programme?”


“You know that the accused, by virtue of his position, is only answerable to the President.”


“So if he was given directives from the President, you would not know.”


“Apart from Sabally, who else did not attend the inauguration?”

“Only the VP and her bodyguards attended. The protocol is that the VP and one person, which is the accused, should attend it,” said the witness.

“I am putting it to you that Sabally, Vice Chancellor Kah, and honorary Counsel Lette went to the ceremony, but could not enter because by the time they arrived, the heads of state were arriving and no one was allowed to enter,” counsel told the court.

“I am just hearing that,” replied the witness.

“I am putting it to you that Prof. Kah also arrived with the accused.”

“I am not aware of Prof. Kah, but the accused came with Lette.”

“Are you denying that Sabally and Lette came together?”

At that juncture, Justice Amadi overruled the question on the grounds that the witness could not be in the aircraft and the same time was able to know who arrived with whom.

Hearing continues.