Kebba Jeffang Reporting from CRR
Mr. Lamin Camara, the Principal of Demfaye Basic Cycle School, told the Bansang Magistrates’ Court on Monday, 4th January, 2016 while cross examining the police officer who testified as the first prosecution witness (PW1), that he did not send out any written publication to the purported website www.seedysanneh.com.
The accused was initially charged with false publication and broadcasting.
When the matter was called before the Magistrate, in a crowded courtroom filled by colleagues, friends and relatives, Chief Inspector Camara announced his appearance for the Inspector General of Police (IGP). The accused person, who was not represented during the proceedings, informed the court that his family is getting him a lawyer for the case.
Prosecutor CI Camara told the court that the matter has already been mentioned at the Brikamaba Magistrates’ Court last week and has now been transferred to Bansang. He then applied to make amendment on the charge sheet by adding another charge. He stated that the accused person will be charged with libel for exposing a police officer on the internet.
When it was read out to the accused person by the presiding magistrate, he responded that he understands the new charge.
The court therefore upheld the application making ‘False publication and broadcasting’ as count one and ‘Libel’ as count two.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Testifying as PW1, Abdoulie Boye, a police officer attached to Bansang police station, said he recognised the accused person and could recall what had transpired between them on the 16th December, 2015. He narrated that on this fateful day, he was on duty at the said station and was informed by the Commissioner of Police for CRR that one of his officers was exposed to the internet. He said his superior asked him to visit the site www.seedysanneh.com and where he logged on to see the picture of one Sergeant Bayo of Kaur police station in police uniform. He said he saw the picture with the caption in hand written note “To whom it may concern”.
The police officer adduced that “the following day, the Station Officer Manneh told me that the driver who was caught by the police and issued with the said caption, was going with the principal of Demfaye Basic Cycle Mr. Lamin Camara. I left the office with Corporal Malafa and PC Jawla to locate the said Mr. Camara. Upon arrival at Demfaye village, we met him in his house browsing the internet. We identified ourselves as police officers and explained our mission of going there. He was arrested and escorted to Bansang police station. Upon returning, he was interrogated and he stated that he scanned and sent the written note to one Mr Khan in the USA. That note was given to a driver and the said note was shown to him. He denied scanning the said picture being sent by him but later the said scanned photo was seen in his phone. There he was cautioned and he further revealed that the said police officer demanded D3000 from the driver. I printed out the said written note with its caption.”
The prosecutor at this stage showed the print out of the said written note to the witness who identified the document as the exact one.
However, the accused person raised an objection for the admissibility of the said document, adding “I recognize the picture, but I have no idea about the publication. At the police station, no one told me about it. Whenever I asked them about it they wouldn’t respond.”
The trial magistrate indicated that he will consider the objection at the stage of the judgment and let the document to be admitted as exhibit in court.
Under cross examination, the accused person asked the witness “when you came to my house, can you sincerely tell the court whether I had any idea about this publication when I was arrested?” The witness responded that all what he has stated in court is the truth.
“How many days did I spend with you at Bansang police station?” asked the accused. “I can’t recall that,” replied the police.
“When was I taken to Janjangbureh remand and how?” asked the accused. “I can’t recall, even though I escorted you,” replied the witness.
“When was my case mentioned at Brikamaba Magistrates’ Court?” asked the accused. “I am the one that escorted you to Brikamaba court but I can’t recall,” responded the police officer.
“Can you recall what the magistrate told you at Brikamaba Magistrates’ court upon my bail denial?” “I can’t recall.”
“You said here that I denied saying that I sent the picture to Mr Khan, Is that true?”. “Yes.”
“Did I say I scanned any picture or a written note?” “Yes, you said you scanned.”
The accused person then put it to the witness that he did not scan any picture. The witness insisted that the picture was sent and it was found in the accused person’s phone.
“When I arrived, did any of you show me the article that accompanied the picture at the police station,” asked the accused person. “I can’t recall that,” replied the witness.
“How was my health and where was I taken to when I have given my statement?” asked the accused person. The witness said the statement was not recorded by him.
The Magistrate granted bail to the accused person, who was detained for over two weeks in different centres, including the remand wing of Janjangbureh prison, in the sum of One hundred thousand dalasi (D100,000) and with 3 sureties who all must deposit their Identity Cards.
The matter was adjourned till 13th January, 2016 for the resumption of the trial with another prosecution witness.
After having fulfilled the bail conditions, Principal Camara was seen being escorted by a large crowd of his colleagues, friends and relatives, who came to attend the proceedings, out of the court premises and heading towards the Bansang car park.