15 January 2013

Gambia: Defence Closes Case At Court Martial As Last Witness Testifies

The two accused persons, Sergeant Manlafi Jarju and Corporal Karamo Jatta, standing trial at the General Court Martial on the charge of abusing their inferiors, on Monday 14 January, closed their defence in the case after the last defence witness finished her evidence in chief and under cross examination before the Court. The case is now set for both the prosecution and defence to address the Court.

The last defence witness is Private Jarra Sowe. Speaking through an interpreter from Mandinka, she told the Court that she joined The Gambia Armed Forces {GAF} Intake 30 on 3 May 2009 and that she is currently attached to The Gambia National Guards {GNG}. Private Sowe said she during her recruitment into the Army she was in Alpha Company, Platoon 3 and Section 3. She said she know Sergeant Manlafi Jarju at the training school and only came to see and know Corporal Karamo Jatta in Court. She indicated that she was in the same formation with Sergeant Jarju during training, but not in the same platoon and section. She noted that she cannot remember the platoon in which Jarju was attached to and that he was at no time attached to her platoon. She said she know the two complainants Sona Badjie and Sona Jammeh during their recruitment at the training school, but did not know them to that extent. She added that she was in the same Company with both complainants and were in same female dormitory during training.

Testifying further, Private Sowe said she has never had any confrontation with Sona Jammeh on the issue of a mobile phone, because they don't take phones to the training school. She said she did not know Sergeant Adama Jatta Camara and has never reported Sona Jammeh to her. She concluded that as a recruit she did not know where and whom to report to when she has a problem with a fellow recruit.

Under cross examination by Director of Public Prosecution {DPP}, Private Sowe said her evidence is what she is as far as she can remember. DPP said, "Certainly as a human being, you can easily forget some things?" Private Sowe said, "This is all I have to say". DPP asked the defence witness: "Then how did you come to know Sona Jammeh?" Private Sowe said, "We were in the same company". Private Sowe said she does not know the number of female recruits at her company and could not tell if they were up to a hundred, adding that she did not also know how many female instructors were at the training school.

DPP asked her whether it will I be right to say that there were more female recruits than female instructors. In response, Private Sowe said "Yes that is correct". DPP asked: "You would not know whether there was only one female instructor at the training school?" private Sowe said: "I know only one female instructor in my company called Ramatoulie". DPP said, "I'm putting it to you that you know Adama Jatta as an instructor because of the insignificant number of female instructors at the school." Sowe said: "I did not know her."

The DPP asked the witness: "As far as you can remember, you did not know Adama Jatta, but due to the length of time you may have forgotten?" Sowe said: "I did not know her". DPP said, "It is certain that you cannot remember all what was said and done at the training school?" Sowe said: "I cannot remember everything." DPP told the witness: "Because you cannot remember Adama Jatta, you cannot also remember reporting Sona Jammeh to Adama Jatta." Sowe responded: "I have never reported Sona Jammeh and did not know Adama Jatta."

Under further cross examination, DPP said to the witness: "Sergeant Jarju was very close to you during the training of Intake 30." Sowe said, "No, he was not close to me." DPP said: "Sergeant Jarju was your boyfriend at the training school". Private Sowe said: "No". DPP asked: "Then who was your boyfriend among the instructors?" Private Sowe said: "I have no boyfriend." DPP said: "The evidence that you gave here is what you were told to say here." Private Sowe said: "No". DPP said: "Because of the fact that Sergeant Jarju was your boyfriend, that is why you took the courage to come and tell lies to the Court just to defend him."

Before the witness can answer, defence Counsel Borry S. Touray interjected, arguing that the DPP is insulting the integrity of the witness. Touray argued that the question is scandalous and not part of the code of conduct for the judiciary and legal practitioners and un-constitutional. Touray added that the DPP has no legal right to insult the witness before the Court.

The Judge advocate, Justice Mikailu, overruled the objection of counsel Touray and asked the witness to answer the question. In response, Private Sowe said: "I will not hold the Quran and lie." DPP said: "I'm putting it to you that you caused Sergeant Jarju to beat Sona Jammeh with 100 strokes." Private Sowe said: "I never have any confrontation with Sona Jammeh neither to cause her to be beaten." DPP said, "Your evidence before this Court is your own cooking and full of lies." Private Sowe said: "I will never lie when I hold the Holy Quran and I did not come here to tell lies."

At this stage, lawyer Touray informed the Court that the defence has closed its case in its entirety. He asked for a week for him to address the Court, arguing that some of the evidences were adduced in his absence and need to study those ones.

The Court ruled and ordered that he did the address today, 14 January, 2013, at 14:30hrs and the DPP will follow suit after his address.

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