VP’S Photographer testifies in EX-SG Sabally’s Trial

By Rohey Jadama
Ousman Keita, a photographer at the Office of the vice president,Modou Sabally SG
yesterday 23 April 2015, testified in the trial of the erstwhile
secretary general and minister for presidential affairs Momodou Sabally. The sixth prosecution witness (PW6 ) testified in the
Economic Crime case, before Justice Amadi of the special criminal
division of the Banjul High  court.
Mr. Sabally is facing eight charges ranging from two counts of
‘Economic Crimes’, three counts of ‘Abuse of Office’, two counts of
‘Neglect of Official Duty’ and a single count of ‘Giving False
Information to a Public Officer. He, however denied any wrong doing.
In his testimony Ousman Keita told the court that he is a photographer
at the office of the Vice President and as a photographer he is
responsible for taking pictures of the VP during occasions. He said he is
also responsible for press affairs during functions. He said he knows
the accused as the former SG and minister of presidential affairs.
He said 2nd May 2014 was a day when the accused and VP were on
schedule to go to south Africa for Jacob Zuma’s inauguration and Thabo
Mbeki foundation. He said they were supposed to leave Banjul at 12:00
but they left at 1:30pm because they were waiting for the accused who
was the SG and minister for presidential affairs while the VP was on
board the aircraft.
He said when the accused arrived he (the accused) said that he was on
assignment at state house and was waiting for some material to bring
along to South Africa. He said upon arrival in Johannesburg, they were
received by the advance team from the Gambia. He said they were lodged
at their hotel. He said they attended a function at the Thabo Mbeki
foundation in Pretoria, which was their first function.
PW6 added that after the function they returned to Johannesburg, the
protocol officer Musa Sinyan asked him to accompany him back to
Pretoria for accreditation for the inauguration of Jacob Zuma. He said
they had the accreditation for the entire delegation and they returned
to Johannesburg.
He added that they found the accused, the former Vice Chancellor of
the  University of the Gambia and the former minister of foreign
affairs sitting at the lobby of the hotel. “I told the accused that
the Vice President would like to leave for Banjul after the
inauguration,” he said. He added that Sabally said he had other
assignments and he cannot leave immediately after the inauguration. He
said the protocol officer told every member of the delegation that
they should leave at 7am from their hotel to the VP’s hotel to accompany
her to the inauguration ceremony.
He added that they left for the Vice President’s Hotel at 6:45am and
found that the Vice President  and entourage were already waiting for them
to join the VP’s Convoy to Pretoria for the function. He said the VP
asked the protocol officer whether everybody was present and the
protocol officer told the Vice President that the accused is not among
them. He said the protocol Officer told the Vice President that he had
disseminated the information that everybody should gather at the VP’s
place by 7am.
When asked by the DPP where the former Vice Chancellor of the University and
the former foreign minister were and the witness said they were with the
convoy. The witness said when they departed to Pretoria for the
inauguration, he saw everyone except the accused. He said after the
inauguration they returned to Johannesburg. He said at the hotel, Musa
Sinyan (the protocol officer and state guard Commander Tamba )asked them
if they heard anything from the pilots and the protocol officer Musa
Sinyan answered in the negative, saying it is Ndey Haddy Jeng who is
responsible for that.
He said Commander Tamba asked him and one Buba Jammeh to go
to the pilot quarters to confirm the departure time to the airport. He
said upon their arrival at the pilot’s hotel, he (witness) received a
phone call from Musa Sinyan that Ndey Haddy Jeng had already
communicated to the pilot that they are leaving for Banjul at 8pm and
that they had to rush back to VP’s Hotel to pack the luggage.
PW6 added that one hour after their arrival at the airport; VP also
arrived with her delegation and boarded the plane. He said they were
in the plane and the pilot came from the cabin and asked Musa Sinyan
if they can depart and Musa Sinyan said they are waiting for somebody
and that somebody is the accused.
He said after 40 t0 50 Minutes the accused arrived with the honorary
counsel Lette and they departed to Banjul.
“You have told this court that you left your hotel for VP’s Hotel at
6:45 while Musa Sinyan said you left at 7am. How do you reconcile
this,” asked DPP?
“I object on the grounds that it is not allowed for the prosecution to
ask questions to a witness who is called by them which could
contradict the answer of an earlier witness,” said Senior Counsel
In replying, the DPP said that he is urging the court to overrule counsel’s
objection on the ground that the question asked was intended to give
an explanation.
Justice Amadi overruled the defence’s objection and allowed the witness
to answer the question. The witness said they left at 7am and that
Musa Sinyan was having a watch and he was not having a watch.
The case resumes on the 28 April at 11am