Gambia: In Foday Barry, Pa Mbye's Trial - Robert Danquah Testifies

One Robert Yaw Danquah, a Ghanaian national and a trader, Tuesday testified as the fifth prosecution witness (PW5) in the criminal trial involving the State against Foday Barry and Pa Habibou Mbye, both former officers of the NDEA before the Banjul Magistrates' Court presided over by acting Principal Magistrate Baboucarr Secka.

In his evidence-in-chief, PW5 told the court that he knows the accused persons and he knew them in The Gambia while under their custody at the NDEA in Kanifing (Holgam).

PW5 explained that in the mid 2011, he was in his hotel room at 'JUST 4 U' Guest House in Pipeline with Ousman Drammeh (PW4) who came to him to transact business. He said he then heard a knock on his door and when he opened, he saw some people with the hotel manager standing. He added that the men identified themselves as officers of the NDEA and they made their way into the room, adding that by then he was having one blue plastic bag and a black bag all containing money in dalasis.

He stated that one of the officers told the hotel manager to be present in the room and in that the officers took his money in the bags, two laptops, four mobile phones, digital camera, card reader, four watches, his cloths and his passport and he was bounded and taken to the NDEA Kanifing office (Holgam).

According to him, he was interrogated by the first accused, Foday Barry about the money and responded that the money was given to him by one Carlos Arango for the payment for legal fees of one of those involved in the two tons of cocaine case and he cooperated with them to get to the said Carlos and was brought to Holgam where confirmed that he (Carlos) gave him the money. He further stated that then Pa Mbye said that the money was drug money but he responded to him that it was not, because it was a bank delivery sealed and with a bank stamp.

PW5 revealed that his cautionary statement was taken by an officer called Gassama and he was held in custody for five weeks but at one point he told the 1st accused Foday Barry that he is entitled to a lawyer and there should be a communication to the Ghana government about his whereabouts but he (Foday) responded that he was not entitled to it. He said he further asked Foday about his charges as he had been under custody for so long but Foday did not give any response.

PW5 said that when Ousman Drammeh was granted bail, he went to Foday Barry to ask of his fate and Foday told him to find someone to stand as a surety and when he got someone, Foday scared the man and said to him that he was a criminal and his case has gone international.

Danquah disclosed that he then told PW4 Ousman Drammeh about it and further told him (PW4) to go to Foday Barry but he came back and informed him that Foday was demanding the sum of 200, 000 Euros before he can give him (PW5) bail and he requested to see Foday Barry himself. He said he spoke to Foday and he confirmed that he needed 200, 000 Euros for his bail and when he asked why he (Foday) was demanding for such an amount, he said Foday responded that because he (PW5) has money and he is a drug baron. He added that Foday also told him that he heard that he (PW5) was convicted before and had the records but he replied by asking whether if he had been caught with 1kg of cocaine should mean that he can be regarded as a drug baron.

He confessed that this was the time he knew that Foday Barry was into something and if he doesn't have that 200, 000 Euros he was going nowhere and that was why he escaped when he had the chance and made his way to Ghana. He further told the court that on the 16th February 2012 at around 4am while at his residence in Accra, he was arrested by two white men and handed over to the Ghana police service where he was placed under custody and a request for his extradition was made from The Gambia in which he was able to see some documents from The Gambia through his lawyer in Ghana.

He added that the said documents include an affidavit sworn-in to by Foday Barry and charge sheets bearing his name but he was finally extradited to The Gambia and was received at the airport by Foday Barry, Commissioner Jatta and Kunchi Jammeh, all NDEA staff and taken to Holgam and placed inside a cell. He finally said under evidence-in-chief that he was arraigned before the Banjul Magistrates' Court and later discharged but his items that were taken from him were never given back to him.

During cross-examination by the defence counsel for the accused persons, Lawyer U. Achiaube, PW5 told the court that the accused persons were not introduced to him as officers working for the Gambia government but he got to know them as officers of the Gambia government. According to him, he made three statements in his matter and he made the first statement at Holgam after his first arrest. The second statement was taken after he was extradited to The Gambia and the third statement was taken while he was at Mile II Prisons.

PW5 further told the court that he made a statement at the Police Headquarters on Monday, December 3rd 2012. He further added that he was aware that he was coming to The Gambia in respect of this case and the statement he gave at the police was a summarised statement. He narrated that all together he made four statements and he can identify all the four by his signature.

At that juncture, the defence counsel applied for the prosecution to produce the said four statements to enable him continue the cross-examination, but the prosecution led by police prosecutor Sergeant Manga opposed the application for the production of all the four statements as they only have one statement out of the four statements requested and that is the one dated December 3rd 2012 which have been given to the defence counsel. Prosecutor Manga said he doesn't know the whereabouts of the other three statements.

The lawyer said that the witness has admitted making the said four statements and he insisted that the statements be produced. The case was however adjourned to December 5th 2012 for ruling.

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