By Yankuba Jallow
Commissioner Abdoulie Sanneh, the third prosecution witness (PW3) was held to struggle by the defence lawyer Christine E. Mene on testimonies he gave as PW3.
When the case was called before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the Special Criminal Division of the Banjul High Court, lawyers Antouman AB Gaye, Yassin Senghor, Combeh Gaye, Rachel Y Mendy and Lamin S. Camara appeared for the State whilst CE Mene and EE Chime appeared for the 1st, P. Gomez 2nd, Ibrahim Jallow for the 3rd, A.Y. Ama for the 4th and 7th, U Achibgue 6th and D. Darboe for the 8th accused person.
Counsel Mene asked the witness what was the specific order that was given to him as the he was going to Westfield where Solo Sandeng and others were holding protest, in his response, the witness said he was given an order to go and find out by the Regional Commissioner, Kebba Bojang. Mene asked whether there was any need to go with a whole task force just to go and find out, the witness responded in the affirmative. Mene asked what he found out, Commissioner Sanneh told the court that he found a crowd with a banner ‘we need proper electoral reform’.
“Is it true that when you reached the place you forced your way into the crowd” Mene asked.
The witness in his response said ‘I did not force my way into the crowd, I asked them who the ring leader was’. Mene asked whether he had entered inside the crowd, PW3 said ‘not inside, I just went to the crowd’. “How do you know Solo Sandeng was the ring leader”? Mene asked. Commissioner Sanneh said he talked to the crowd who told him that Solo Sandeng was the ring leader. “Is it the crowd that told you Solo was the ring leader” Mene asked. “The person I talked to, I cannot remember him” PW3 responded.
Mene also asked how many people he spoke to, in his answer, the witness said he cannot remember how many of them because the time he asked they were saying “Solo Sandeng is our leader”. Mene asked whether it is correct to say ‘several people’ told him(PW3) that Solo Sandeng was their leader, the witness told the court that he cannot say how many people in the crowd told him that Solo Sandeng was their leader.
The witness also refused Lawyer Mene’s statement that he used forced in the crowd to take Solo Sandeng away and that his efforts were resisted by the crowd which resulted into push and pull. The witness told the Court that he has never mentioned that in court. Lawyer Mene referred the Court to its sittings dated 7thNovember 2017 when the witness in his evidence in chief told the Court that Modou Ngom, one of those who were arrested alongside Solo Sandeng stood between him (PW3) and Solo Sandeng and was pushing him. The witness told the Court that he never said that in Court and that he can’t remember anyone pushing him.
Lawyer Menne also referred the court to many statements that the witness gave in his evidence in Court which in cross examination, he countered. One of the statements was the witness told the Court that when he came to Westfield and the crowd told him that it was one Ebrima Sandeng commonly called Solo Sandeng was their leader, he decided to speak to Solo who was in the middle of the crowd, when he approached him, Solo Sandeng called him officer though he was not in uniform. In yesterday’s trial, the witness denied that Solo Sandeng was in the middle of the crowd, but instead told the Court “Solo Sandeng was in the crowd whether in the middle or not I cannot say that”.
Commissioner Sanneh told the Court that he cannot remember anyone apart from himself and his senior, Commissioner Kebba Bojang in their team that went to Westfield during the protest. Lawyer Mene still asked whether Momodou Sowe, a senior officer that he (PW3) mentioned, was part of the team, the witness said Sowe was part of it.
The witness also denied Solo Sandeng calling him ‘officer’. Lawyer CE Mene referred to his statements when giving evidence on 7th November that when he approached Solo Sandeng who was in the middle of the crowd, he was not on uniform but Solo recognised him and called him officer. The witness told the Court yesterday that he and Momodou Sowe were together by the time Solo Sandeng called ‘officer’, so he does not know who Solo referred to when he called ‘officer’. “I said Solo said ‘officer’, I thought he knew me” Commissioner Sanneh said.
The matter was adjourned to today and tomorrow at 12 noon for continuation of cross examination and further hearing.