Court interposes witness in Taranga FM Manager’s Trial

By Rohey Jadama

In the trial of the Taranga FM Managing Director, the High court yesterday decided to interpose prosecution witness Fatou A. Alhaji Abdoulie Ceesay, Manager Teranga FMDrammeh as she is out of the country.

This is the result of the application of Hadi Saleh Barkun, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) yesterday for Fatou A. Drammeh to be interposed as she is out of the jurisdiction of the Gambia. Mr Abdoulie Ceesay, Managing Director of Taranga FM radio is being tried for Seditious and Publication of false News.

When the case was called before Justice Simeon Ateh Abi of the Banjul High Court, DPP Barkun announced his representation for the state, whilst Lawyer Combeh Gaye-Coker and Segga Gaye appeared for the accused person.

“My lord I have an application to make, the second Prosecution witness is out of the jurisdiction of the court and we made efforts to contact her but what we could gather is that she is out of the jurisdiction. So with regards to that we are applying for her to be interposed because we have another witness in court”, said the DPP.

However, Counsel Gaye-Coker, Defence counsel for Mr. Ceesay argued that she has a right to continue with her cross-examination. “The DPP has not indicated whether the witness will come back or not,” she said.

Responding to the defence counsel, DPP Barkun said all that they could gather is that the witness is out of the jurisdiction and they did all they could to reach her but to no avail. This prompted the trial judge to ask the DPP as to when the witness will return. However, the DPP responded in the negative.

When asked by the trial judge whether she is objecting to the application of the DPP, Lawyer Gaye Coker responded that she really wants the case to proceed and that in the interest of justice she is not objecting.

At this juncture, Mr. Lamin Ceesay the 3rd prosecution witness was called to begin his testimony. Mr. Ceesay told the court that he lives in Banjul and that he works at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). He adduced that he recognised the accused person and that he also knows Fatou A. Drammeh (PW2) and Zainab Koneh.

The NIA operative told the court that sometime in July, 2015, Ms Drammeh and Koneh came to their NIA office complaining that the accused sent them through telephone a seditious text of the president of the republic of the Gambia.

PW3 said based on that the Taranga FM Managing Director was arrested and brought before him for investigation. He added that confrontations were made and the mobile phones of PW2, Koneh and the accused was taken and extractions were made from it, the picture was downloaded and printed.

The NIA operative told the court that one of the seditious materials is a gun pointed at the president and that the accused sent that picture to Ms Drammeh and Koneh.

At this juncture, the DPP showed documents to the witness and he identified it as the document extracted from the text messages sent to PW2 and Miss Koneh. The DPP applied to tender it in court as an exhibit.

However, Defence Counsel Gaye-Coker objected to the tendering of the said documents arguing that the DPP has not laid the proper foundation to tender the documents as an exhibit, which according to her contravenes section 22 of the Evidence Act. She read the said section to court and she cited the State vs   Ibrahima Sawaneh and others to support her argument. She finally urged the court to reject the said documents as section 22 of the Evidence Act has not been complied with.

Replying to the objection of Lawyer Gaye-Coker, the DPP said the objection of the defence is a misconception of the said section. He argued that the said section does not in any way refer to a document printed by using a computer.

At this stage, the trial judge adjourned the case till 17th November, 2015 at 4pm for ruling on the admissibility of the document and continuation of hearing.