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VP’s photographer cross-examined in Momodou Sabally trial

Apr 29, 2015, 9:53 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

Senior defence counsel AB Gaye yesterday challenged the evidence-in-chief of Ousman Keita, photographer at the Office of the Vice President, before Justice Amadi of the special criminal court in Banjul, in the trial involving former Secretary General and Minister for Presidential Affairs Momodou Sabally.

Under cross-examination, Ousman Keita told the court they were in South Africa to attend two functions.

He said the first function was the launching of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, which every member of the delegation, including the accused person attended.

The second function was the inauguration ceremony of President Jacob Zuma.

He agreed telling the court that on 22 May 2014 when they set out for South Africa at Banjul International Airport, while the Vice President was on board the aircraft, the accused delayed the VP’s flight for 1 hour 30 minutes.

He also told the court that when the accused arrived at the airport, he (Sabally) said he was on an assignment and was also waiting for some materials to take along to South Africa.

Still under cross-examination, the witness said that when the accused arrived he said openly to everyone in the plane that he was on an assignment, and was also waiting for materials to take along to South Africa.

He said he could not confirm that the accused made that statement to the Vice President.

“You want the court to believe that the accused went from one person to another in the plane, and made the statement to them?” the counsel challenged.

At that juncture, the DPP objected to the question on the grounds that the counsel was putting something wrong to the witness.

Counsel Gaye said DPP’s objection was misconceived, and the misconception was borne out of ignorance of the difference between a contention and a question.

He never put a contention to the witness, but had asked a simple and straightforward question, counsel added.

In his ruling, Justice Amadi overruled DPP’s objection and called on the witness to answer the question.

The witness then said Sabally did not go to people individually to make the statement, but said it openly when he entered the plane and found everyone seated.

The witness said he did not hear anything from the VP after the statement made by the accused.

He also said he shared the same hotel in South Africa with the accused, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the UTG Vice Chancellor, protocol officer Musa Sinyan, protocol officer Ndey Haddy Jeng, and the Minister for Higher Education.

Mr Keita also told the court that he knew Sabally, as the then Secretary General and Minister for Presidential Affairs, was answerable to the President.

He did not know if the President gave him (the accused) the assignment.

However, it was only Sabally who did not attend Jacob Zuma’s inauguration, Keita went on.

He also confirmed giving evidence that the accused was late for 40 to 50 minutes.

He was not aware that PW4 called the honorary consul Lette to know the accused whereabouts, and he did not know that the accused went to the aircraft late due to the meeting he was having with Lette, and the traffic jam.

He was not there when the departure time was communicated to the accused, he told the court, adding that he said in his statement at the NIA that the accused had said he would not leave for Banjul until he finished his assignment, and the VP was unhappy and responded negatively.

The case continues today.