In Musa Yalli Batchilly’s trial, defence takes prosecution witness to task

Dec 29, 2020, 12:20 PM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Defence Counsel Kijera, representing Musa Yalli Batchilly, the secretary general of Gambia Action Party (GAP), who is charged with obtaining money by false pretence and fraud, recently challenged the third prosecution witness by cross-examining him to test his credibility before Principal Magistrate Isatou Janneh-Njie of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court.

Lawyer Kijera asked the witness, Mr. Sowe, an investigating officer, whether he prepared the investigation report. He answered in the positive.

He was also asked whether he prepared the charge of obtaining money by false pretence and what were the reasons. In response, the witness told the court that the accused admitted that the house belongs to one Salifu Batchilly. He was questioned whether he recorded this in the statement, and he answered in the positive. At this juncture, the defence counsel requested for the statement which was given to him. He then showed it to the witness to read out where the accused admitted that the property belongs to Salifu Batchilly. He then read out the statement.

“Did you confirm from Salifu Batchilly that he owns the house?” he was asked.

“Salifu was not within the country, and there was no means to get to him,” he responded. It was put to him that the investigation was biased, and that if the investigation was not biased, the witness would have confirmed from Salifu. Mr. Sowe answered that it was not biased.

He was asked who reported the matter to the police. In response, he told the court that Modou Mbye, the complainant’s brother, acted on behalf of his sister when he reported the matter to the police. It was put to him that he was not speaking the truth because there was no document given to him to show that Modou Mbye reported the matter on behalf of his sister. He maintained that Modou Mbye did so.    

“You said there was an agreement between the complainant and the accused,” he was reminded.

“Yes, there was,” he replied.

He was further challenged that as an investigator, why he did say that the accused acted under false pretence before being able to confirm from the owner, and that he had personalised the case.  He denied it.

“Do you know that prosecution is the last resort for a lead investigator?” he was asked.

“Yes, but the accused made promises which he never fulfilled, though there was enough time,” he said.

It was then put to him that the complainant used him to implicate the accused, which he denied. He was again asked whether he knew the consequences of taking an oath on the Qur’an. But this did not go down well with the prosecuting officer, Superintendent Manga, who objected and said that the question asked by the defence counsel was not relevant. He further stated that asking the witness whether he knew the consequences of taking an oath on the Qur’an or whether he is a Muslim was irrelevant because they were not in a mosque but in a court of law.

The case continues.