The Point (Banjul)

6 February 2013

Gambia: Defence Opens in 2006 Coup Attempt Case

Defence opened yesterday in the concealment of treason case involving Abdoulie Njie and Alieu Lowe, at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul before Justice Emmanuel Nkea.

The defence opened with the testimony of the 1st accused, Abdoulie Njie, who told the court that he is presently detained at the Mile 2 prison, since on 28 March 2006 when he was arrested.

"I know the 2nd accused, Alieu Lowe, and I also know former Honourable Demba Dem, as they came from the same village. I know the former accountant general, Alieu Jobe," he said.

He informed the court that he denied the offence of concealment of treason.

"On 28 March 2006, between 9 to 10 pm, I received a phone call from the former Lieutenant Musa Jammeh, who told me that he wanted to see me, and asked to direct him to where I was," he told the court.

"I knew Musa Jammeh, as we used to meet him at a friend called Lieutenant Sanyang. When I directed him to the place where I was, he came and picked me up, and took me to the NIA headquarters in Banjul, before the panel," he said, adding that Musa Jammeh said he was informed that his name was mentioned in the foiled coup attempt.

"I told Jammeh that I have no knowledge of the said coup attempt. I was then beaten, and the next day I was told that Honorable Demba Dem told them so. I was tortured and taken to Mile 2," Njie said.

Njie said on 29 March 2006, he was brought back to the NIA office at around 12 midnight, paraded before solders with masks, and the soldiers told him if he failed to accept the allegation he would be killed, adding that on the 2nd day they tied his hands and started beating him.

He said during the beating, one of the soldiers said they should stop beating him and take him to Demba Dem to have a confrontation, further adducing that he was taken back before the panel and Demba Dem was also brought.

Demba Dem said at the panel that Alieu Jobe informed him, and he (the accused) about what Alieu Jobe told him, Njie stated.

He further adduced that Demba Dem said he (the accused) informed the former state guard commander Serign Modou Njie, which allegation he categorically denied, but the panel said they believed Honorable Demba Dem, because he was an MP, but they did not believe him (the accused person).

"I was not charged, and I was told that if I accept the allegation the state will use me as a witness," he said.

DW1 stated that he refused the promise, because he knew nothing about the foiled coup attempt, adding that according to Demba Dem, he Dem informed him at the pharmacy when he met him there.

He said Dem said he also informed Serign Modou Njie two weeks before the incident.

Njie further informed the court that on 30 March 2006, a written statement was brought to him to sign, and at that place two guns were pointed at his head, and told that if he failed to sign the statement he would be killed; and he was given a pen to sign.

Njie added that on 28 March 2006, no statement was recorded from him, but only beating; adding that exhibit C was not his statement.

He said as a result of the torture inflicted on him, he sustained a broken teeth, and fractured shoulder.

"I was forced to sign the documents, and I was later taken to Mile 2," he said, adding that exhibit C1, was also not his statement.

"When I was taken to the NIA, and the NIA took me to the office of the former DPP Emmanuel Fangbelle, they said they wanted to help me and I should also help them," he added.

"They told me if I accepted the charge they would use me as a state witness against Demba Dem. Then Dem was charged," he added, stating that he was never charged, and he never accepted the offer.

At the office of the DPP, he went on, the DPP asked him whether he knew the reason why he was brought to his office, and he told him "yes", but he told him that he could not give a statement in this matter because he knew nothing of the matter.

He said he was told that he could not be released until after the trial of Demba Dem, if not he would tamper with the witnesses.

"I told the DPP that I cannot agree with the promise, because I cannot stand and tell lies. I was never released, and after I was detained for 5 years and 5 months.

"My brother hired the services of a lawyer, and I was told that I will be going to court," he adduced, stating that Demba Dem came and met him at Mile 2, and informed him that he Demba Dem was acquitted and discharged.

He said he denied the fact that Alieu Jobe was his relative, and that he heard about the foiled coup attempt on Radio Gambia on 22 March 2006, adding that if he was truly involved he would have fled the country.

The case was then adjourned to 14 February2013, for cross-examination.

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