By Kebba Jeffang
Mr. Kebba Secka, a security officer and also the first prosecution witness (PW1) on Wednesday, October 08, 2014 ended a long cross examination by the defence counsel in a criminal case involving Mrs. Veronic Carayol, the deputy commissioner of Enforcement at The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) at Banjul Magistrates’ Court before Magistrate Jackline N Hakim.
Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Awa Ceesay-Sabally applied to be provided with Exhibit A which is the investigative report. When served, she showed the said exhibit to the accused person for him to confirm the page on the finding that contains fifteen listed points which he did(the witness did).
He was asked whether in their investigation, they had enough findings that stated as a fact that the accused person has been harassing the staff of the GRA and he replied in the negative.
“Did you state in your findings that the accused person used to harass the people when they visited the GRA?” Asked the defence counsel.
The witness responded in the negative.
“You have stated under Yankuba Darboe’s statement that the accused person has terrorized all the visitors. This is what Yankuba has stated. Is that correct?” Asked Lawyer Ceesay-Sabally. PW1 replied “that is what he said.”
“Your term of reference gave you three areas to look into during investigation. I am putting it to you that you have gone out of your reference in your finding in making observation and recommendation,” stated the defence lawyer. The witness responded in the negative.
“Now go to paragraph 5 of your findings that stated that Lang Tombong Tamba, the former Chief of Defence Staff was a boyfriend to the accused person. Is that in your terms of reference? In response, the witness said, “That is what the accused said in her own statement.”
“How many statements did she write while under custody?” Asked defence counsel. He responded “I think it was two or three statements.”
“I put it to you that it is your investigation panel who raised the issues of Lang Tombong Tamba when they know that the entire allegation against the accused person was false. And they did so in order to dig all the wounds?” Stated the counsel.
The witness responded in the negative.
“Correct me if I am wrong. Is Veronic’s romantic arrangement something to make her guilty by association,” lawyer Ceesay Sabally asked.
The witness answered in the negative.
Lawyer Ceesay-Sabally puts it to the witness that “this is what the mischievous finding made’ but the witness insisted that it was not.
She further asked the witness whether Lizzy Elizabeth Mendy stiil works at the GRA as indicated by the statement. The witness replied in the affirmative.
“Do you know that the same Elizabeth Mendy is a wife of Pierre Mendy who is serving a term at Mile 2 for plotting Coup against the government?” Asked the lawyer. “Yes,” he replied.
Tell the court your husband and your boyfriend who should one be more loyal to?” Asked the counsel. “I don’t know,” replied the witness.
Asked if he knows Momodou Sabally, the former Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service; witness responded in the positive.
“Do you know that Momodou Sabally and Yankuba Darboe are very good friends?” Asked counsel.
Witness said he doesn’t know that.
Defence lawyer Sabally asked the witness whether Yankuba Darboe should also be guilty by association, but the witness maintained that he doesn’t know.
“I am putting it to you that your panel of investigation has exceeded beyond jurisdiction,” asserted the defence lawyer. “No,” replied the witness.
“I put it to you that your recommendation and observation have contradicted your findings,” stated the defence lawyer. The witness responded in the negative.
She further puts it to the witness that they did not conduct a fair investigation; but the witness answered in the negative.
“I am putting it to you that Exhibit A (investigative report) calls for the malicious prosecution of the accused person,” said the defence counsel. The witness responded in the negative.
“I am putting it to you that you have been so much economical to the truth,” challenged the defence counsel. The witness answered in the negative.
The witness at this point was re-examined by the police prosecutor, A.S.P Musa Camara on few points.
The prosecutor asked: “you were asked during cross examination as to whether the accused owns the business and you answered in the negative. Who then owns the business or the stall?”
The defence counsel objected to this question pointing out that there is no ambiguity in that evidence as it is clearly stated that it is not owned by the accused person.
The prosecution insisted that the question should be allowed by virtue of section 192 of the Evidence Act.
However, the trial magistrate overruled the question.
The matter at this juncture was subsequently adjourned to Wednesday, 15th October, 2014 at 2:30pm, 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd respectively at 2 to 3pm.
It could be recalled that Madam Veronic Carayol, the deputy commissioner of Enforcement at The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) was arraigned and charged with four counts. However, the third count was not read in court due to the defence counsel’s objection that the said count should be referred to the Supreme Court for interpretation which was upheld by the court in a ruling.
According to the particulars of the offence on count one, ‘’abuse of office’, the accused, in Banjul and other places abused her office by allowing the official vehicle with registration No. GRA 63 to be used for carrying her sister’s employee and merchandise of baby diapers for an official mission and thereby committed an offence.
Count two, false information to public servant, stated that the accused, in Banjul and other diverse places, falsely informed the panel of investigators that there is an outstanding balance businesspersons should pay, which she circulated and it was retrieved by some GRA top official, an information she knew or believed to be false.
On count four, the particulars of offence indicated that the accused, in Banjul and diverse places uttered by own words that she accepted unsolicited money as gifts or consideration as an induction or reward for doing or for bearing to do or have been done or for borne to do this act in relation to her “principal affairs to show favours” and thereby committed an offence.