4 January 2013

Gambia: PW One Testifies in Ex-GPA Boss' Trial

Cadet ASP Momodou Sowe, a police officer attached to the Major Crime Unit of the Gambia Police Force, on Thursday testified as the first prosecution witness (PW1) in the criminal trial involving the State against Abdoulie Tambedou, the former managing director of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA).

Sowe started his testimony yesterday in the said case before Magistrate Dawda Jallow of the Banjul Magistrates' Court. In his evidence, PW1 told the court that he recognised the accused person as he was the former managing director of GPA but he came to know him during their (Police) investigation into issues raised by the accused in a letter he sent to the Office of the President.

PW1 revealed that a panel was then instructed in which he took the lead and they invited the accused and confronted him on the letter and he (the accused) admitted authorship of the letter. According to him, potential witnesses were called and statements were obtained from them after which they wrote a report and forwarded it to their seniors.

PW1 was shown a document, which he identified as a copy of the letter written by the accused person and sent to their office from the Office of the President, adding that they received only the photocopy of the said letter.

At that juncture, the police prosecutor Sergeant Manga applied to tender the letter in evidence as an exhibit. The defence counsel for the accused person, Lawyer Lamin S. Camara objected and said that the document is not admissible because it has not met the rules of admissibility and it is clear from the evidence of the witness that the document sought to be tendered is not a primary document but rather it is a secondary document.

Camara added that the document has to be certified as it is a public document but this is not the case. He said that the original of the document is not with the accused and there is no notice to produce the original failure of which will allow the photocopy as the original is moveable. He urged the court to reject the document and mark it rejected accordingly and cited Section 99 and 101 of the Evidence Act.

The prosecutor in his submission informed the court that the document sought to be tendered was given to the investigators, which was the subject matter of the whole investigations, and the defence never said that the accused person did not author the document and the prosecutor backed his submission on Section 101(I) of the Evidence Act.

Manga further submitted that it is not mandatory that a document must be certified before it can be admissible, adding that it is as a result of the said letter that the accused is in court and so rejecting it will not serve justice. He disclosed that the un-certification of the document could be deemed as a technicality, which should not defeat the cause of justice. He finally submitted that the document be admitted under Section 3 of the Evidence Act as the test for admissibility is relevant.

Lawyer Camara in his reply on points of law noted that certification of a document is not a technicality said by the prosecution but it is a rule of law and laws are meant to be obeyed. Further stating that the language of Section 3 is clear, as it is a general rule, therefore it does not avail the prosecution any right to bring any document and cover it with relevance.

However the presiding Magistrate adjourned the case to January 9th, 2013 for ruling and continuation of hearing.

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