6 December 2012

Gambia: Ex-Mile Two Inmate Testifies in Foday Barry & Pa Mbye Case

Robert Yaw Danquah, a Ghanaian national and one time inmate at Mile 2 Central Prison, yesterday testified before Acting Principal Magistrate Babucarr Secka of the Banjul Magistrate's court as the fifth prosecution witness in the ongoing alleged theft case involving Alagie Foday Barry, former Director of Intelligence and Investigations at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and Pa Habibou Mbye, former Crime Management Coordinator of the same agency.

In his evidence in chief, Mr. Danquah informed the court that he knew the accused persons absolutely well.

When asked by Police Prosecutor Sergeant Manga where he knew the said people, he responded that he knew them in this country because he was in their custody; adding that in 2011 he was lodged at 'Just For you' guest house in Pipeline.

He said he was in his hotel room with one Ousman Drammeh to transact a business and heard a knock at the door of his room. He said he responded and opened the door and he saw some men with the hotel manager and they identified themselves as Officers of the NDEA.

According to the witness, he was having one blue nylon bag containing money in dalasi denominations as well as another bag containing the same currency and one of the officers told the manager that they were going to conduct a search and therefore he should be present. He added that after the search was conducted the officers took his belongings including the money.

When asked by the prosecutor to name his belongings that were taken, Danquah said 2 laptops, 4 phones, a digital camera, card reader, 4 watches, clothes and a Ghanaian passport.

"They bundled me into a pickup then I was taken to Holgam NDEA Office", testified Danquah. He added that at the said office he was interrogated about his mission to The Gambia and the monies found on him. He said he told Foday Barry that the money was given to him by a Colombian Dutch called Carlos Arango and he told both accused persons that the money was for the payment of legal fees for one of those involved in the two tonnes of cocaine affairs.

"Then they asked me if I can corporate to apprehend Carlos Arango of which I did and Arango was brought to Holgam. He was also questioned about the money and he confessed that he gave that money to me", testified the witness.

According to the witness, Pa Mbye told them that the money was drug money but he told him perfectly well that it was not drug money but instead it was a bank delivery sealed with a stamp. He alleged that he was put in a cell and the following day, interrogation continues by Foday Barry. He said he was again asked by Mr. Barry what his mission was in the country and on the third day, his cautionary statement was obtained by Lamin Gassama.

"I was held for five weeks, detained incommunicado. At one point, I told Foday Barry am entitled to a lawyer and that they should inform the Ghana Government to know my whereabouts", he said.

The witness further adduced that the first accused did not give any reason for keeping him so long; adding that a friend of Ousman Drammeh (PW4) went to bail him but Mr. Barry scared him that Danquah is a dangerous criminal and that the case has gone international.

Mr. Danquah further informed the court that he later asked Ousman Drammeh to go to Mr. Barry but he came back and told him that Barry was asking the sum of €200,000 before he could grant him bail.

"I therefore asked to see Foday Barry", Said witness, adding that Barry later confirmed what Drammeh told him.

He said he asked Barry what was the reason behind this money he is demanding for his bail and Barry's response was that because Danquah has money and he is a drug baron.

According to Mr. Danquah, when he realized that if Barry did not get the said money he would not be granted bail, he decided to escape and make his way to Ghana. He added that on the 16th of February 2012, around 4am whilst he was at his residence, he heard a sporadic gunshot and later showed two white men whom he said made signal that he should step down; adding that when he got down, he was handcuffed and put under arrest by the said people. He said the white men asked him whether he knows Mr. Gazi but he told them that he did not know what they were talking about. He said his picture taken from Holgam was shown to him which made him to realize that it was in connection to his escape from the Gambia.

The witness further informed the crowded court that he was later handed over to Ghana Police Service and was placed under custody within the 48hrs limitation and arraigned before the district courts in Ghana where he was charged with drug trafficking and that extradition request had been made by Gambian authorities. He said during his detention at the Ghana Police service, his solicitor went to see him and took along some documents emanating from The Gambia. He said the first accused had sworn to an affidavit that he was charged with drug trafficking and that he had conspired with eight accused persons in the Gambia for transporting over two tonnes of cocaine.

He added that his lawyer in Ghana told him not to be worried because the documents submitted by the first accused were suspicious; adding that his lawyer in their country asked the prosecutor in Ghana for Gambia to send his cautionary statement and a document showing that he was tried and convicted alongside eight people in The Gambia.

"Those documents my lawyer requested, never came", he disclosed.

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