By Mamadou Dem
State counsel Lamin Badjie has recently applied for the court to amend the charges against Mr. Muhammed Kebbeh and Alhagie Ass John, the proprietor of Universal Trading Company and its Managing Director, respectively.
When the case resumed on Thursday for Pw1 to continue with his testimony, State counsel, LaminJarjue, reminded Karafa Keita that he testified to the court that the first accused called him (PW1) in 2000 in relation to an agreement for supply of groundnut by Universal Trading Company to Sundiata Trading Company and the witness replied in the affirmative.
Mr. Keita testified to the court that Universal Trading is owned by the first accused Mr. MuhammedKebbeh and the second accused (Ass John) is his Managing Director, adding that there are enough documents to prove that.
Under cross-examination, Sheriff Tambadou, the attorney for both accused persons, asked “Mr. Keita can you read and write in English?” “Yes,” Pw1 replied.
“Do you know the date of incorporation for Sundiata Trading Company?” “I cannot remember the exact date.”
“Is Sundiata Company Trading still in existence?” “It has been assassinated by MuhammedKebbeh and Ass John (the accused persons), adding “They are completely bankrupt.”
“Was there any bankrupt proceedings to declare Sundiata Trading Company bankrupt?” “No, because if we do that, the banks will sell their properties in their possession.”
“I am putting it to you that it is not a true statement. Bankruptcy is to secure protection from the courts and nobody will sell property belonging to them?” said defence counsel Tambadou. “I am a lay man in law,” replied the witness.
“When did Sundiata Trading get bankrupt?” “In 2001.”
“This was before Sundiata obtained judgment from the High Court?” “Yes.”
“Who are the shareholders of Sundiata Trading Company?” “Myself and my brother, Lamin Keita, and one SulaymanJadama.”
The witness added that he cannot remember the respective shares for each of them but he holds the greater share.
“The judgment of the High Court was in respect of a suit brought by Sundiata against Universal Trading and the first accused?” asked Lawyer Tambadou. “Yes,” he answered.
At this juncture, the counsel for the accused persons showed the prosecution witness a document and asked him whether it was the contract he was referring to. The witness replied in the affirmative.
Barrister Tambadou then applied to tender the contract dated 21st January, 2000 to be admitted in evidence.
State counsel LaminJarjue objected on grounds that the document sought to be tendered by the defence was a photocopy. He argued that Section 100 of the Evidence Act does not permit for the document to be put in and further referred the court to section 101 of the same Act.
Barrister Jarjue further argued that proper the foundation was not laid by the defence and that the document is also a public document. “Hence the defence could not bring the original or a certified copy of the document. We urged the court to reject it and mark it accordingly,” he submitted.
Barrister Tambadou, in reply, argued that this case evolves due to the contract he wishes to tender to the court, adding that it is more relevant in this case. He said the document is not a public document because the contract was between two private companies. He said the document does not fall within the definition of public documents as prescribed in the Evidence Act. “I urged the court to overrule the objection,” said Lawyer Tambadou.
Replying on points of law, Barrister Jarjue submitted that since the contract was between the two companies, each of them were entitled to have the original copy of the contract. “The document is not relevant unless it complies with the admissibility requirement,” submitted Jarjue.
At this stage, the court adjourned the matter to 7th December (today) for ruling and continuation of cross-examination.
The duo is standing trial on five criminal charges such as “Conspiracy to defraud’, ‘Obtaining money by false pretence’, ‘Cheating’, ‘Personation in general’ and ‘Personation of a person’s name in a certificate’. Both have pleaded not guilty as charged.
The particulars of offence on count one alleged that the duo in the name of Universal Trading Company entered an agreement with Sundiata Trading Company Limited on 20th November, 2000 in Banjul within the jurisdiction of the court and conspired among themselves to defraud, obtained the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Dalasi (D500,000.00) from Sundiata Trading Company Limited through one Karafa Keita and thereby committed an offence.
In the particulars of offence of count two, it is alleged that the duo in the name of Universal Trade Company sometimes in the months of November and December 2000 in Banjul, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Dalasi (D500,000.00) from Sundiata Trading Company Limited through one KarafaKeita by falsely pretending that they had groundnut for sale and which representation they knew to be false.
The third count alleges that the same accused persons in the name of the said company and within the same months and year at Banjul and with intent to deceive, obtained the said sum of D500,000.00 from Sundiata Trading Company through one Karafa Keita by fraudulent trick that they had groundnuts for sale and which representation they knew to be false.
On the fourth count, it is stated that Mr. Kebbeh and his co accused in the name of Universal Trading Company entered an agreement with Sundiata Trading Company sometime in the year 2000 at Banjul with intent to defraud Sundiata Trading Company through one Karafa Keita, had obtained the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Dalasi by representing that they have the authority to trade in name of Universal Trade Company Limited and which representation they knew to be false.
The particulars of offence for the fifth count states that Alagie Ass John sometime in the year 2000 at Banjul, with intend to defraud, obtained the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Dalasi from Sundiata Trading Company Limited through one Karafa Keita by representing that he is the Director of Universal Trade Company Limited, which he knew to be false.