By Rohey Jadama Ousman Keita, a photographer at the Office of the vice president, yesterday 23 April 2015, testified in the trial of the erstwhile secretary general and minister for presidential affairs Momodou Sabally. The sixth prosecution witness (PW6 ) testified in the Economic Crime case, before Justice Amadi of the special criminal division of the Banjul High court. Mr. Sabally is facing eight charges ranging from two counts of ‘Economic Crimes’, three counts of ‘Abuse of Office’, two counts of ‘Neglect of Official Duty’ and a single count of ‘Giving False Information to a Public Officer. He, however denied any wrong doing. In his testimony Ousman Keita told the court that he is a photographer at the office of the Vice President and as a photographer he is responsible for taking pictures of the VP during occasions. He said he is also responsible for press affairs during functions. He said he knows the accused as the former SG and minister of presidential affairs. He said 2nd May 2014 was a day when the accused and VP were on schedule to go to south Africa for Jacob Zuma’s inauguration and Thabo Mbeki foundation. He said they were supposed to leave Banjul at 12:00 but they left at 1:30pm because they were waiting for the accused who was the SG and minister for presidential affairs while the VP was on board the aircraft. He said when the accused arrived he (the accused) said that he was on assignment at state house and was waiting for some material to bring along to South Africa. He said upon arrival in Johannesburg, they were received by the advance team from the Gambia. He said they were lodged at their hotel. He said they attended a function at the Thabo Mbeki foundation in Pretoria, which was their first function. PW6 added that after the function they returned to Johannesburg, the protocol officer Musa Sinyan asked him to accompany him back to Pretoria for accreditation for the inauguration of Jacob Zuma. He said they had the accreditation for the entire delegation and they returned to Johannesburg. He added that they found the accused, the former Vice Chancellor of the University of the Gambia and the former minister of foreign affairs sitting at the lobby of the hotel. “I told the accused that the Vice President would like to leave for Banjul after the inauguration,” he said. He added that Sabally said he had other assignments and he cannot leave immediately after the inauguration. He said the protocol officer told every member of the delegation that they should leave at 7am from their hotel to the VP’s hotel to accompany her to the inauguration ceremony. He added that they left for the Vice President’s Hotel at 6:45am and found that the Vice President and entourage were already waiting for them to join the VP’s Convoy to Pretoria for the function. He said the VP asked the protocol officer whether everybody was present and the protocol officer told the Vice President that the accused is not among them. He said the protocol Officer told the Vice President that he had disseminated the information that everybody should gather at the VP’s place by 7am. When asked by the DPP where the former Vice Chancellor of the University and the former foreign minister were and the witness said they were with the convoy. The witness said when they departed to Pretoria for the inauguration, he saw everyone except the accused. He said after the inauguration they returned to Johannesburg. He said at the hotel, Musa Sinyan (the protocol officer and state guard Commander Tamba )asked them if they heard anything from the pilots and the protocol officer Musa Sinyan answered in the negative, saying it is Ndey Haddy Jeng who is responsible for that. He said Commander Tamba asked him and one Buba Jammeh to go to the pilot quarters to confirm the departure time to the airport. He said upon their arrival at the pilot’s hotel, he (witness) received a phone call from Musa Sinyan that Ndey Haddy Jeng had already communicated to the pilot that they are leaving for Banjul at 8pm and that they had to rush back to VP’s Hotel to pack the luggage. PW6 added that one hour after their arrival at the airport; VP also arrived with her delegation and boarded the plane. He said they were in the plane and the pilot came from the cabin and asked Musa Sinyan if they can depart and Musa Sinyan said they are waiting for somebody and that somebody is the accused. He said after 40 t0 50 Minutes the accused arrived with the honorary counsel Lette and they departed to Banjul. “You have told this court that you left your hotel for VP’s Hotel at 6:45 while Musa Sinyan said you left at 7am. How do you reconcile this,” asked DPP? “I object on the grounds that it is not allowed for the prosecution to ask questions to a witness who is called by them which could contradict the answer of an earlier witness,” said Senior Counsel Gaye. In replying, the DPP said that he is urging the court to overrule counsel’s objection on the ground that the question asked was intended to give an explanation. Justice Amadi overruled the defence’s objection and allowed the witness to answer the question. The witness said they left at 7am and that Musa Sinyan was having a watch and he was not having a watch. The case resumes on the 28 April at 11am]]>
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