6 December 2017

Gambia: NIA 9 Case - 'I Don't Know the Operational Role of the PIU' Commissioner Sanneh

Police Commissioner Abdoulie Sanneh, the third prosecution witness (PW3) in the case involving senior intelligence officers has told the court that he is not a PIU officer and that he does not know their operation. He made these remarks when defence Lawyer for Yankuba Badjie, Christine E. Mene asked him 'how did the team of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) officers arrive at Westfield to effect the arrests of Solo Sandeng and Co?'

The witness told the Court "I am not a PIU officer, I don't know how they dress when they are going for operation". He told the Court that he joined the Gambia Police Force in the year 1995 (22 years ago).

Earlier, the public prosecutor, Lawyer Antouman Gaye for the State told the Court that Lawyer Mene is using the licence of cross examination to delay the proceedings. He added that Lawyer Mene repeats questions and raise irrelevant issues, terming it an abuse for the purpose of cross examination.

Lawyer Mene in his reply, told the Court that the purpose of cross examination is to enable the accused person to discredit the witness' statements that he gave as testimony in Court and denial of which will amount to denial of fair hearing.

The court held that cross examination of a witness should be on issues. The court also ruled that Counsel Mene will be limited to only relevant questions and that the Court will not allow the repetition of questions that have already been raised. The Court further held that the cross examination of PW3 has gone beyond the expected time and consideration of the rights of the accused persons to speedy and fair trial, and that the Court will not tolerate any repetition of questions.

In the continuation of cross examination, Counsel Mene asked the witness whether PIU is responsible for riots, demonstration and so on. The witness responded that PIU are officers like any other police officers. Mene further asked, "what is the function of PIU in the Gambia Police Force?" The witness responded by saying "police functions" adding that "all police officers carry out police functions".

"Is there any unit in the police force responsible for breakdown of laws, riots and demonstrations?" Mene asked.

The witness responded that "all police officers can do that as long as they are in uniform". Mene emphasised to the witness that PIU in the Police Force are responsible for situations such as riots and demonstration. The witness reverted that all police officers are responsible for chaotic situations.

Mene told him (PW3) that it was based on his report to his senior, Commissioner Kebba Bojang, that the deployment of the PIU team to Westfield was done. PW3 responded that the statement is not true.

Mene asked whether PIU officers who were deployed to Westfield on the day of the protest of Solo Sandeng and Co, were responsible for the arrest of the protesters. The witness said "I cannot confirm that 100% but the majority of them were arrested by PIU officers and taken to the PIU Headquarters in Kanifing."

The witness also told the Court that he does not know who directed the PIU officers to come and arrest Solo Sandeng and co; that he does not also know what specific orders were given the PIU officers, saying "they were not under me, they have their Commissioner". The witness also told the Court that those PIU officers who came to the scene that involved Solo Sandeng and co at Westfield did not brief him as to what their mission was; that he does not also know the team leader of the PIU officers that were present at Westfield. He said he was in no way involved in the arrests of Solo and others.

The case will come up today at 12 noon for continuation of cross examination of PW3.


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