8 January 2013

Gambia: More Defence Witnesses Testify At Court Martial As State Ask for Adjournment

Sergeant Adama Jatta Camara of The Gambia Armed Forces Training School (GAFTS), on Monday 7 January, testified before the General Court Martial at the Yundum Barracks, in the trial of Sergeant Manlafi Jajru and Corporal Karamo Jatta as the fifth (5) defence witness (DW5). However, after her testimony, the State Prosecutor asked for an adjournment to enable her to cross examine the witness as she was not in a better position to do so at the time.

In her short, but brief testimony, Sergeant Adama Jatta Camara, speaking in English, told the Court that she is attached to GAFTS and could recall when the trainees of Intake 30 were being recruited to become soldiers. She said during that time she was a Section Commander attached to Bravo Battalion and Foxtrot Company. She said she did not know the two complainants in the case, Sona Badjie and Sona Jammeh. She said she knows Sergeant Manlafi Jarju as her senior man, but did not know him that much. She added that Sergeant Jarju was at Alpha Battalion and she was at Bravo Battalion during the recruitment of Intake 30. She said she did not know Jarra Sowe. She noted that during that time she was a private soldier whilst Jarju was a Lance Corporal.

Defence counsel Borry S. Touray read out the evidence of Sona Jammeh indicating that whilst she (Sona)was fingering her mobile phone it went loud and Jarra Sowe told her she is ugly and she responded that the issue is not about her (Sona's) ugliness but instead about the boyfriend she (Jarra Sowe) has within due to her beauty; that the following day Jarra Sowe reported her to Corporal Adama Jatta who in turn asked Corporal Jarju to beat her and she was taken to a house and given 100 strokes on her buttocks. In response, Sergeant Jatta said she was never aware of the incident and that no one has ever reported such things to her. She said she was in Bravo Company and that Jarju was in Alpha Company, adding that the two companies never met each other during training. She added that whiles the Alpha Company was in the bush, Bravo Company, which she was part of, would be at the training school.

Sergeant Jatta Camara told the Court Martial that she cannot give commands or instructions to Sergeant Jarju as she was a junior to him. She said there was no point in time where she gave orders or instructions to Jarju, because he is her senior. She added that she can neither give instructions to an Instructor to beat a recruit nor her senior man. She concluded that during the recruitment of Intake 30, she was the only Adama Jatta at the Training School.

The Prosecutor, who did not cross examining the witness, applied for an adjournment to Wednesday, 9 January, by virtue of the fact that she has another matter at hand. She explained to the Court that this particular matter has been dragging before another Court for a very long period now due to her appearance before the Court Martial.

Defence lawyer Touray opposed the application for an adjournment, arguing that he has two matters before the Brikama Magistrates' Court, but instead has to come to the Court Martial. He added that he would be out of the jurisdiction by Wednesday, but not withstanding his colleague, lawyer Edrisa Sissoho would hold brief for him.

The president of the Court Martial, Colonel Paul S. Gomez, before adjourning the matter stated the importance and powerfulness of the Court Martial when it comes into conflict with cases before a Magistrate Court. After consulting with the other panelists, Captain Abdoulie Sarr and Lieutenant Oumie Saine and the Judge advocate Justice Abdullahi Mikailu, he reluctantly adjourned the hearing to tomorrow at 09:00hrs.

The two accused persons, Sergeant Manlafi Jarju and Corporal Karamo Jatta are jointly charged for abusing 2 of their subordinates, Sona Badjie and Sona Jammeh, during recruitment of GAF Intake 30 in 2009. They both deny the allegation against them.

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