The fifth prosecution witness (PW5), Corporal Jino Sanneh said the ‘True Friends Whatsapp Group’ was created by soldiers and their target was to arrest the former Minister of Interior, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief of Defence Staff and the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission.
These remarks were made by Corporal Jino at Tuesday’s hearing of the 23rd January 2017, before the five panelists of the general Court-Martial, when giving evidence. He said he is a resident of Tallinding and a member of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) attached to Defence Headquarters, in Banjul; that he was told by Sergeant Yusupha Jatta that the mission to arrest those officials would have been conducted on the 24th day of July 2017; that on that day the ex-President, Alhagie Yaya AJJ Jammeh would have arrived in the country.
On how he got involved in the group chat which he referred in Court as the ‘Forum’, he said the 10th accused person, Lance Couple Abba Badjie whilst under official duties at Defence Headquarters, told him that there is a group chat created by some soldiers and would like him to join; that after working hours, Lance Corporal Badjie took him to Sergeant Yusupha Jatta’s residence in Bundung. He told the Court that Sergeant Jatta took his number and added him in the group chat; that the name of the group was “True Friends”; that Sergeant Jatta told him there will be a meeting where he will be introduced to his colleagues and that on that day, he will know more about the group; that on Sunday Morning, he received a call from Sergeant Jatta that the meeting was scheduled at 20:00 hours in the evening and he further directed him to the venue where the meeting was to take place. “Upon my arrival I recognised some soldiers. I recognised Mamina Bojang, Ebrima Jarju, Mbemba Camara (the 11th accused person) and Sergeant Yusupha Jatta” he said; that after ten minutes of sitting and waiting, Sergeant Jatta begun introducing him to his colleagues after which, the Sergeant said the purpose of the group was to carry out a mission on the 24th day of July 2017; that Sergeant Jatta told them that the Ministers of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Chief of Defence Staff and the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, were the targets. “I asked him (Sergeant Jatta) to repeat the statement and he repeated it” said the witness.
He continued giving testimony that Sergeant Jatta told them there were no logistics at the time of the meeting but before the planned date, they will be available; that he asked the Sergeant about the motive behind the mission but that Sergeant Jatta responded he will tell him on the next meeting. “I did not attend the next meeting because the group was discovered before that day,” he said.
Under cross examination by Defence Lawyer Sheriff Kumba Jobe, the witness said it was only the 11th accused person present at the meeting; that he has never attended any meeting where the accused persons where involved; that he could not remember both the dates of his arrest and release but was quick to say that his arrest was in July 2017 and was released in November 2017.
“You were released because you agreed to come and give evidence in Court regarding this case”? asked Lawyer Jobe.
“Yes”, responded the witness.
The matter was subsequently adjourned to Friday on the 26th of January 2018.
Earlier Captain Alagie Camara under cross examination said he joined the Gambia Armed Forces in the year 1988 and it was the same year that he completed his secondary school education; that he cannot remember the year he was designated as an Intelligent Officer. He testified that he is an experience investigator and knows the rule of the game. He told the court that he cannot remember any of the rules; that he does not know the judges rule but he knows the rules for obtaining cautionary statements and he mentioned some of those rules.
He agreed with Lawyer Jobe’s statement that before an accused is to be interrogated, he or she must be cautioned; that there should be an independent witness before obtaining the cautionary statements of an accused person. He said it took him an hour to take the cautionary statements of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd accused persons; that the cautionary statements of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd accused persons were recorded on the same date; that the Independent Witness Bernard Jatta, came after the cautionary statements were obtained. Lawyer Jobe applied for the Court to allow him to show the witness the cautionary statements that were tendered in court and marked as exhibits. He was shown exhibit A1 dated the 29th of July, 2017, Exhibit A dated the 23rd of July 2017, Exhibit D dated the 26thof July 2017, Exhibit D1 dated the 26th of July 2017 and Exhibit C dated the 21st of July 2017.
The witness told the panelist of the Court-Martial that the reason why he said they were all recorded on the same date was because they recorded the statements from the accused persons from the date they were under their custody. He was also shown Exhibit B which is a cautionary statement obtained from Alieu Sanneh recorded on the 16th day of August 2017, without an Independent Witness and the witness agreed.
“Captain you did not follow the prescribed rules when obtaining the cautionary statements from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and the 11th accused persons?” Lawyer Jobe asked. “I followed the rules” the witness responded.