Sarjo Camara-Singateh

The first prosecution witness in the trial of the Sukuta Three commenced his testimony at the Bundung Magistrates’ court on Monday 13 June, 2016.

The Prosecution Witness (PW1) Bubacarr Trawally, police detective sergeant at Serekunda attached to operation Bulldozer2 at Holgam, Kanifing South, in his testimony informed the court that he can vividly remember 13 and 19 April 2016, when he was asked to charge all the three accused persons, Ebrima Keita, Musa Fofana and Alasana Jallow,  1st , 2nd and 3rd accused respectively.

The Police detective noted that he obtained statements from all the accused persons, which they consented to at their own volition. Detective Bubacarr Trawally told the court that the voluntary and cautionary statements which he said the accused persons signed and thumb printed were obtained in the presence of Sub Inspector Ebrima Ceesay, Immigration officer, Bakary Singhateh, Immigration officer, Alpha Bojang and one Mr. Mbye Bojang an independent witness.

He said both cautionary and voluntary statements were read to the accused persons in English and translated into Mandinka for their clear understanding. Prosecuting officer, ASP Amadou Keita, asked the prosecution witness what he did before obtaining the cautionary and voluntary statements he obtained from the accused. Detective Bubacarr Trawally informed the court that he asked the accused persons whether they wish to say anything about the matter and that whatever they say would be put in writing and may be given as evidence in court.

The witness continued: “I gave them the option whether they prefer to write a statement or to sound their opinion. The first accused person preferred to write his statements by himself, the second accused person authorised my colleague Ebrima Ceesay and the third accused person authorised me to write his statements. The statements were read to them which they accepted and thumb printed and the independent witness signed.

“I finally filed and signed the statements and charged the accused persons accordingly, they all accepted the charges.”

The Police Prosecutor, who is standing for the Inspector General of Police (IGP) at this stage showed the statements to Detective Bubarcarr Trawally, who identified them as the said documents. The prosecutor now applied to the court to tender these statements as exhibits.

But the defence counsel, Mr Fatty objected to the admission of the documents, submitting that they were obtained under duress. He maintained that the statements were not voluntarily obtained from the accused. At this point the matter was adjourned till Tuesday 21 June 2016 for the defence to deal with the matter.

The trio are charged with seditious intention and incitement of violence. According to count 1, the 3 accused persons are charged with seditious intention contrary to section 51(a) of the Criminal Code Cap 10:01 Vol. 3 Laws of the Gambia 2009.

The particulars of offence states that Ebrima Keita, Musa Fofana and Alasana Jallow on or about 11 day of May 2016 at Sukuta, Kombo North, West Coast Region, Republic of the Gambia, have uttered a statement stating that ‘the country, The Gambia is at a boiling point, that the government kidnapped Solo Sandeng in order to threaten the general public; that the President never likes the Mandinkas, a statement meant to cause dissatisfaction and hatred against the person of the President of the Gambia and thereby committed an offence.