Sunday, March 29, 2020

Transcribed Whatsapp Audios Admitted In Evidence


By Kebba Secka

The General Court-martial in Yundum on Tuesday 15th January, admitted in evidence the transcribed audios and text messages downloaded from the WhatsApp Group called True Friends.

The panel guided by Judge Advocate Zainab Alami directed that the transcription be marked as Exhibit P3. In the previous sitting, the defence counsel objected to the admissibility of the transcribed documents describing them as computer generated evidence.

When the case was called, AN Yusuf appeared for the state while O. Suso with Major Bassirou Sarr, Major Mustapha Badjie, Major Yusupha Jammeh and Navy Lt Farra Jobe announced their representation for the defence. The prosecution called on principal witness six (PW6), Sheikh Omar Jallow to proceed with the case. PW6 said, he is a transcriber attached to the High Court in Banjul. Asked by Yusuf to describe the nature of their transcription, the witness said: ”We have computers with server and all data are sent from the court rooms to the server. When it reaches the server, we load them and transcribe the court’s proceedings,” he replied. ”Did you ever have a cause to transcribe any audio from a WhatsApp Group?” asked state counsel. ”Yes,” the witness replied. PW6 added that in 2018, he was instructed by the judiciary to transcribe the WhatsApp voice notes of the accused persons. He further explained that the voice note in the WhatsApp were translated from Local Language to English. ”Can you remember the type of phone used,” asked Yusuf. He replied, ”Yes, it was an iPhone and after we transcribed the voice notes, we handed them to the judiciary. At this juncture, state counsel applied to be given Exhibit P3 and he asked the witness whether he could identify it. Pw 6 identified the documents by his certification, signature and name.

During Cross examination, O. Suso reminded the witness that he said in his evidence in chief that he cannot speak Jola. Witness answered in the affirmative adding that the transcription was done through the help of a court interpreter. ”Did you at any point certify the Exhibit P3,” asked Defense Counsel. ”Yes, it was certified by me and signed,” answered PW6. ”Can you read out the wording of your certification,” asked O Suso. ”I certify that this is the correct transcribed audio sound of the WhatsApp audios in the above entitled matter to the best of my knowledge and ability,” read PW6. Defense counsel reminded the witness that he earlier told the court that he is not fluent in Jola and after all made the certification to the best of his knowledge. ”What does this suggest to you,” asked O. Suso. At this point, state counsel Yusuf objected to the question arguing that the word suggest infers an opinion and that the question is vague. The panel in the end overruled the objection of the prosecution and called on the witness to answer the question. In answering the question, PW 6 said when they transcribed the audio from one language to the other, they usually applied to the Judicial Secretary to help them with an interpreter. Witness added that any audio that comes to their office usually follow normal procedure.

It could be recall that Warrant Officer Class One, Sulaiman S. Badjie and Lance Corporal Lamin Kujabi were arraigned last year before a General Court-martial charged with three counts – incitement to mutiny, conspiracy to commit mutiny and endeavouring to persuade other members of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF)to take part in mutiny.

At this stage, proceedings were adjourned till Monday 21st January, 2019.

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