Independent Witness Testifies in Soldier’s Voire Dire Trial

By Mamadou Dem

One Fabakary Kinteh of Sukuta, Kombo North, West Coast yesterday 15th March, 2017 testified as an independent witness in the ongoing trial within trial involving Sergeant Babucarr Njie of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF).

Sergeant Njie is standing trial on a single count charge of going arm in public contrary to the laws of the Gambia. He pleaded not guilty as charged. However, his attorney Sheriff Kumba Jobe earlier objected to the admissibility of both cautionary and voluntary statements sought to be tendered by the prosecution. Arguing that they were not obtained voluntarily which warranted the court to order for a voire dire.

Testifying before Principal Magistrate Isatou Janneh-Njie of the lower court in Banjul, Mr. Kinteh informed the court that he works at Sunshine Insurance Company and recognized the accused person at the Police Headquarters in Banjul.

According to the witness, on the 10th of February, 2017 he was in a shop around the police headquarters when one Senghore called him to his office (Major Crime Unit).

When asked by Police Prosecutor, Sub-Inspector Abdoulie Bojang whether he had anything to do with the accused on the said date, he responded in the affirmative; adding that when he went with Inspector Senghore to the major crime unit of the police headquarters, he introduced him to the accused as an independent witness. “Senghore produced a document and read it to the accused person. When the accused explains, Senghore will write,” said the witness. Prior to that he said Senghore produced a form and told the accused anything he said would be written and would be used against him in a court of law.

The witness further testified that he was given the statements to sign but he asked the accused whether he wasn’t force at the time of obtaining the statements from him and the accused responded in the positive. He added that the accused told him that he was not insulted neither was anything wrong done to him by the police.  “After that I signed and left,” he added.

Under cross-examination, attorney for the accused, Sheriff Kumba Jobe asked “Which Insurance Company do you work for?” “Sunshine Insurance Company. Am not employed at the said Insurance Company but if I see people interested in insurance, I take them there and get my commission but that was long time ago,” Kinteh clarifies.

“Then it’s correct that you are not working for the Company?,” asked counsel. “Yes,” Kinteh replies. Counsel asked, “Do you have any educational background in other words are you literate?” “Yes I went to Kotu Senior Secondary School.” He added that he it is correct that he can read and write English.

“You said you are an independent witness in this case?,” quizzed counsel. “Yes,” replied the witness. Counsel asked, “Can you tell the court the date these statements were recorded?” He replied, “10th February, 2017. I can’t remember the time but is between 1Pm upwards.”

“You stated in your statement that you were called by Mr. Senghore. Do you know him in Person?,” he inquired. “I don’t know him but can recognize him,” said the witness.

At this juncture, the witness agreed with the defence that he wouldn’t know what transpired between Inspector Senghore and the accused prior to him being call at the Major Crime Office.

 

The witness refuted the allegations made by counsel that the statements were not recorded in his presence rather they were recorded and he was asked to sign them.

At this point, counsel put it to him that he only knew things that transpired in the Major crime when he was present. “Do you know the name of the accused person?” “Abubacarr Senghore,” testified the witness.  “Prior to this day, you have never seen the accused person,” asked lawyer Jobe? “Never,” Kinteh responded.

“Therefore you seeing the accused person for the first time?,”  “Yes,” he replied.

Barrister Jobe finally said to the witness “I am putting it to you that all that you said in your evidence in-chief are just afterthoughts.”  Mr. Kinteh reacted that what transpired in his presence was what he said to the court.

Consequently the matter was adjourned to 20th of this month but before adjourning the matter the defence reacted to the prosecution’s application for adjournment as the court shouldn’t be hold at ransom just because of a witness had travelled.  Warning that when next the prosecutor makes such application, they will object vehemently.