Sunday, August 18, 2019

AT THE COURT-MARTIAL: Three accused persons testify


By Kebba Secka

Three accused persons were yesterday crossed-examined by the prosecution at the General Court-Martial held at Yundum Barracks. They are Sergeant Malick Bojang, Corporal Sulaiman Sanyang and Corporal Lamin Gibba.

The trial involves twelve (12) members of the Gambia Armed Forces in connection to alleged WhatsApp group created allegedly to over throw the government of the day.

When the case was called MB Abubakr announced his appearance for the state while SK Jobe with Capt Suwaibou Jammeh, Capt. Cham Samateh, Capt Modou Demba and Capt Kebba Jabbi announced their representation for the accused persons.

Sergeant Malick Bojang was then asked to enter the witness box as the fifth defence witness to be crossed-examined. “Did you belong to a what group called true friends?” asked MB Abubakr. “Never. I was never part of a WhatsApp group called True Friends.” “In your evidence before court you said your number 2135791 was added to the group by Sgt Yusupha Katya, alias Yarro,” asked state counsel. “What I told this court is clear, that my number was added to the group without my consent and as soon as I knew it l asked for it to be deleted,” explained DW5. State prosecutor went on and asked him whether he DW5 knew the activities running in the group prior to him asking to be deleted and Witness answered in the negative, adding that he has never participated in a WhatsApp group conversation which is alleged to have planned to overthrow the government of The Gambia.

At this juncture, prosecutor applied to be given exhibits 43, 44, 54 and 61 and when the exhibits were given, prosecutor asked DW5 to read out to the court the last paragraph of Exhibits 43 and 44 which contained messages of translated conversations relating to the alleged planned coup. Between page 43-44 of the exhibits, DW5 read out pages 43 and 44 to the court: “Malik Bojang (DW5) 2135791 what you have said is very clear. All proposals have been met. All that we need is to achieve our mission. May we live to witness that day in peace. All that we need is your command on that day so that we achieve what we all want.”

Next to be examined was Lance Corporal Sulaiman  Sanyang DW6. He asked by Defense counsel SK Kobe to tell the court how he became involved in the alleged matter. DW6 said on 11th July, 2017 at Fajara Barracks, one Kebba Ndure,  approached him and told him to answer to Warrant Officer Class C Tete Saidy. According to him, this Warrant Officer ordered him, DW6 to be taken to the Detention Centre in Fajara Camp where he was detained until he was brought before a court-martial. DW6 also told the court-martial that whilst he was detained, he was taken to face a Board of Inquiry at the Fajara Barracks and a Board of Investigators at the NIA. “At the BOI, I told them that I am not aware of any creation of WhatsApp group meant to overthrow the government of the Gambia. I told them that I did not know how it happened. At that point Capt Pharring Sanyang told me that all that we need from you is the truth but if you hide the truth from us, we will take you to a place where you must tell us the truth,” he told the court. According to him, he too told Pharring that, “all that you need is the truth and I have told you the truth, nothing but the truth,” he claimed. “Capt Sanyang again asked me why we the Jolas don’t like the change of government in The Gambia. I told him never to asked me politically motivated questions. I told him, I don’t choose a leader, God chooses a leader. Therefore, who am I not to accept the doings of the Almighty,” DW6 told the court. He further alleged that Lt Yusupha Jallow at that moment was ordered by Capt Pharring to take him somewhere and dealwith him until he revealed the truth.

During crossed examination, state counsel MB Abubakr referred the witness to Exhibit K dated 21/07/17, telling the court it was his own statement. “You told the court that at the BOI, you intended to maintain the statement dated 21/07/17,” asked MB Abubakr. “Yes,” DW6 answered. When Sgt Yusupha Jatta asked you to give him your number to be added to the group, which number did you give him?,” asked state counsel. ‘I gave him 7301023,” “Can you tell the court the purpose for which you were added to the group,” asked MB Abubakr. DW6 explained: “I never told this court that I agreed to be added to the WhatsApp group in connection to the alleged coup planned,” he explained. “Did you willingly give your number to Sgt Yusupha Jatta,” “Yes,” he answered but later reaffirmed that he is not part of a WhatsApp group which is the subject of their charge. “You told the Court that you willingly gave your number to Sgt Yusupha Jatta,” reminded MB Abubakar.

At this juncture, Defence counsel SK Jobe objected arguing that there was nowhere the Witness mentioned in his evidence in chief that he gave his number willingly to Sgt Yusupha Jatta. Prosecutor again rose and said he was referring to the witness’s evidence before the Court. Defence counsel SK Jobe again rose up and said the prosecutor needs to quote from Exhibit K if that was where he was talking from. Prosecutor then asked DW6 to tell the court the number he gave Sgt Jatta and asked whether it is the number he used on WhatsApp.

On the examination of DW7, Lamin Gibba said he lives in  Foni Jiffanga and can recalled on the 21 July, 2017 when he was arrested by Lt Mamud Barry at the 2 Infantry Battalion in Farafenni and later transferred to Fajara Barracks for detention. He explained that when he asked why he was arrested, he was told by Mamud that he received instruction from his superiors. He added that while he was detained at the Fajara Barracks he faced Investigators both at Fajara Barracks and at the NIA headquarters in Banjul where he was interrogated in connection to the alleged WhatsApp group. “When they asked me whether I have planned to overthrow the government, I told them never and never ever. I also told them I’m not part of any WhatsApp group called True Friends,” he told the Court. “What happened to your mobile phone,” asked Defense counsel. “My phone was seized by Lt Mamud Barry,” he answered. DW7 was asked by Defense counsel whether if his mobile phone is shown to him he would be able to identify it and he answered in the affirmative. At that juncture, defence counsel applied to the court to allow the witness to identify the phone that was seized from him. The mobile phones that were seized from the accused persons were displayed before the court for the witness to identify his own. “Does your type of mobile phone use WhatsApp,” asked Defense counsel. The witness answered in the affirmative, adding that he used 6312450/2883349 on WhatsApp. When you were asked by the BOI about the alleged meetings in AU Villa and Lamin, what did you tell them?” asked Defence counsel. “I told them I don’t know anything about it,” he said. “Who did you know among these accused?” asked Defence counsel. “I came to know them in this trial,” he answered. DW7 said when he met the BOI, he told them that they will not see a message of his contribution in the alleged WhatsApp group and that is a confirmation that he was not part to the group.

The case was adjourned till today for continuation of crossed examination of DW7.

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