By Muhammed Barrow
One Kassim Fadera, a resident of Soma, is on trial for words he allegedly uttered in WhatsApp.
The charges against him are sedition and prohibition of conduct conducive to the breach of the peace, which relate to a statement he uttered and is posted in WhatsApp. The complainants, the six chiefs of Lower River Region, alleged that he has insulted them in the statement.
Kassim Fadera, who is represented by Lawyer Borry Touray, made his first appearance in court on 12 November, 2018 when he was remanded at Mansakonko Police Station and later taken to Janjanbureh. He was later granted bail. On 27 November, 2018 the prosecutor, Lawyer Abdoulie Fatty, called his first witness, Chief Alh. Yaya Jarjusey who testified. The case was adjourned till 14 December, 2018 for further hearing.
The prosecutor called for an adjournment because the first prosecution witness, Chief Jarjusey, had an engagement with the president together with the other five district chiefs in LRR at a meeting in Basse. He further mentioned that they have six district chiefs with three police officers as witnesses.
Lawyer Borry Touray representing the accused, Mr. Kassim Fadera, opposed the application for adjournment, pointing out that he cannot travel a long distance only to be told that a witness, a police officer, is not present. He added that political activities shouldn’t stop court proceedings. The prosecutor concurred.
At this point, the next prosecution witness, Mr. Omar Sanneh from Soma Police Station, was called upon to enter the witness box.
He told the Court that he was attached to Soma Police Station.
He added that he is Regional Crime Coordinator of the area.
“Do you recognise Mr. Kassim Fadera?” he was asked. He replied: “Yes.”
He was further asked: “Do you know the chiefs of LRR?” He replied: “Yes I do.”
“Can you recall sometime in November whether something happened that warranted the accused person to be charged?” asked the prosecutor. “Yes, I do,” he replied. He was then asked to explain what had happened to the court and he said the following:
“On that fateful day, the chiefs of LRR came with an audio to complain at the Soma Police Station. It was the WhatsApp recorded voice of the accused person. The accused was confronted with the said audio which he didn’t deny. The audio was transcribed from Mandinka to English by myself and sent to the Police Head Quarters for advice and later sent to the AG Chambers and the suspect was charged.”
He was then asked whether from the transcript and other proceedings, he would be able to identify the recording. He responded in the positive. He was later given papers to check which he confirmed contain the reply from the Police Headquarters.
There was an attempt to tender the document but the defence counsel raised objection citing a number of laws. The prosecutor also responded also cited laws.
The presiding magistrate requested to see the written document provided by the witness. He then ruled that:
- The court is having the manpower to interpret the audio.
- The Court also believes that the evidence produced is just two pieces of paper and he rejected the written document.
The prosecutor then continued to examine his witness, Mr. Omar Sanneh. Question: Apart from their transcription of the audio what did you do?
Answer: He was charged and detained and later bailed.
Lawyer Borry then asked the witness whether there is any IPO to this matter and the witness responded in the negative.
Lawyer Touray put it to the witness: You decided to arraign the accused person before the court without investigation into the matter. The witness said the man he is waiting for is the first prosecution witness.
At this stage the prosecutor called for adjournment for either PW1 or PW3 to appear and the court adjourned the matter till 28 December, 2018.