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‘Witness credibility is at stake’ Defence counsel tells court in Nanama Keita’s case

Aug 24, 2011, 12:26 PM | Article By: Yusuf Ceesay

Neneh Cham, defence counsel in the alleged false information case involving Nanama Keita, former Daily Observer Sports Editor, yesterday told the Banjul Magistrates’ Court that the witness’s credibility was at stake.

Continuing her cross-examination of the second prosecution witness, Assan Sallah, News Editor of the Daily Observer Newspaper Company, counsel put it to the witness that his statement was false, when he said that defence exhibit A2 (letter of attestation) was prepared by the MD (Pa Malick Faye) to boost the chances of Keita’s going to the football World Cup in South Africa.

Sallah admitted that the Fifa World Cup was held in June 2010, whereas exhibit A2 was written in August 2010.

When asked how long he has been working with the Observer Company, Sallah said: “I started working with the company since 2005.”

Asked whether he knew that the accused was the deputy Editor in Chief, Sallah replied, “not to my knowledge,” adding that what he told the court was the truth.

“Are you telling the court that your MD was lying when he stated that the accused was the deputy editor in chief?” counsel asked, to which the witness replied in the negative.

When further asked whether anybody could hold a position in the Observer Company without him knowing, Sallah again replied in the negative.

Sallah asserted that he himself, the accused person, the MD (Pa Malick Faye), Ahagie Jobe,  Amie Manga, Momodou Lamin Sanyang, Lamin Ceesay and Modou Njie were all present at the first meeting regarding the publications in the Freedom Newspaper. 

Counsel then put it to the witness that he was not telling the truth, because the accused person was not present at that meeting, which the first prosecution witness, Alhagie Jobe, had confirmed.

But Sallah maintained that what he said was the truth.

Asked about his statement, when he alleged that the accused person was heard saying “Oh Freedom and others”, and told that this was completely false, since that the accused person was never present at that meeting, Assan Sallah denied that, and said the accused was definitely at the meeting.

The defence counsel again put it to the witness that none of the staff uses a password on their computers, but Sallah said this was not true, adding that none of the computers is free for any member of staff to use.

He adduced that if a breakdown occurs in one’s computer, he or she could have access to others’ computers, but this does not mean that he or she had to know the person’s password. 

Still under cross-examination, Sallah denied that a search was made on the accused person’s computer, before he was invited to come and attend the meeting. 

The witness also said he had no knowledge that the accused person’s office was usually left opened the whole day.

When counsel asked the witness: “Everybody knows that, and you did not know that?”, the prosecution objected, saying the witness had already answered the question.

However, counsel argued that this was the defence’s strategy - to “leave no stone unturned in testing the witness’s credibility.”

However the question was disallowed.

The witness also denied that the Google search reportedly done, which found communications with the Freedom Newspaper in the accused person’s computer, was false.

“I was present when the accused’s computer was checked by the IT expert,” the Observer news editor told the court.

Sallah added that the accused was never asked to log onto his email, and that the search was conducted on the browser history through Google search.

“Would you be surprised that Alhagie Jobe earlier told the court that the accused logged onto his email voluntarily, and nothing was found?” counsel further said.

“I would not be surprised,” Sallah told the court.

Hearing was then adjourned for continuation on 1 and 2 September 2011 respectively.