13 December 2017

Gambia: Court Martial - 'Second Accused Person Was Tortured' - Lawyer Jobe

Sherrif Kumba Jobe, the lawyer for 12 soldiers facing trial on nine counts involving treason, yesterday told the Court-Martial that the second accused person, Lieutenant Abdoulie Jarju was tortured in the cause of obtaining cautionary statements from him.

Lawyer Jobe said the second accused person was compelled and threatened before his cautionary statements were obtained from him. Lawyer Jobe told him that the second accused person's face was covered and he was taken into a room where he was seriously tortured.

Lawyer Sheriff K. Jobe made this statement when cross examining the fourth prosecution witness (PW4), Alhajie Camara who told the Court-Martial on Monday that he was assigned by his authorities to join the team of investigators at the NIA headquaters, Banjul.

Under cross-examination, Lawyer Jobe asked PW4 when the cautionary statement of the second accused person was recorded. The witness told the Court-Martial that it was done in a period of one month. Lawyer Jobe disagreed with the witness' statement that the cautionary statements of second and third accused persons were taken in a period of one month. Lawyer Jobe added that the cautionary statements of the second and third accused persons were taken on the same day. In his reply, the witness told the Court "I can't remember".

At this juncture, Lawyer Jobe applied to the Court-Martial for the documents (cautionary statements) to be shown to the witness to identify them. The witness told the panel that the documents were his (witness') own handwriting, adding that he recorded the cautionary statements and used the same date, 21st July 2017.

Further cross examining the witness, Jobe asked him whether there was any independent witness when he was taking the cautionary statements. The witness responded that by the time he was recording the cautionary statement, there was no independent witness but the independent witness came later, adding that he could not remember when he had an independent witness for the statements obtained from the second and third accused persons.

The witness also told the Court-Martial that he does not think he can produce the original of the cautionary statements of the second and third accused persons. The defence lawyer applied for the documents to be tendered in Court and marked as exhibits DVD2 for the second accused person. Since there was no objection from the prosecution, the documents were marked as exhibits by the Court-Martial.

The witness agreed with Lawyer Jobe's claim that at the time he was recording the cautionary statements of the second and third accused persons, there was no independent witness, adding that the independent witness came after the recordings were completed.

The witness also agreed with Lawyer Jobe's statement that exhibit DVD2 is a photocopy of Exhibit PVD2 that the prosecution tendered on Monday in Court.

Captain Camara further told the panel that he does not know the principle of the Judges Rules as an investigator. Lawyer Jobe told him that these are set out rules that ought to be followed when doing investigation in obtaining information from the second accused person.

Lawyer Sheriff Kumba Jobe insisted that the witness was as an investigator because he lacks knowledge of the Judges Rules since he failed to adhere to the Judges Rules in obtaining cautionary statements.

The Court-Martial overruled the Prosecution Counsel's objection that the use of photocopy by the defence lawyer, S.K. Jobe will lead to different interpretations, adding that photocopy may mean reproducing it. Lawyer Jobe told the panel that the purpose of cross-examination is to clear doubts. The Court-Martial overruled the objection of Lawyer Yusuf.

Next was the Fifth Prosecution Witness (PW5), Bernard Jatta, a civilian who told the Court-Martial that he is a resident of Kotu and an electrician. He told the Court that he was the independent witness, adding that he can identify some of the accused persons especially second and third accused persons.

He told the Court-Martial that he was called by Captain Alhajie Camara sometime in July at the then NIA Headquarters, Banjul.

"A short moment later, Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh, the third accused person was brought and I was introduced to him as the independent witness," Bernard said.

He told the panel of the General Court-Martial that PW4 brought two cautionary statements and asked Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh whether he can identify his own statement. Bernard added that Lieutenant Jammeh identified his own statement said it was his (Lieutenant Jammeh's) own handwriting.

The matter was adjourned for lack of an interpreter who can speak both Wollof and English. The witness told the Court-Martial that he was not comfortable with the English Language.

The matter will be heard on Friday the 15th December, 2017.

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