8 February 2018

Gambia: In the NIA 9 Trial - 'Solo Was Tied With a Rope',Witness

Pa Serign Mboob, the tenth prosecution witness (PW10) has told the Banjul High Court that Solo Sandeng was tied with a rope when they finished interviewing him at the conference hall.

Mr. Mboob made this revelation while testifying in the ongoing trial involving Yankuba Badjie, Former Director of NIA, Louis Gomez, former Deputy Director, Saikou Omar Jeng, former director of Operations, Haruna Susso, Yusupha Jammeh, Tamba Masireh, Lamin Darboe and Baboucarr Sallah, and Lamin Lang Sanyang.

The nine former NIA officers are standing trial on twenty-five charges that includes murder.

Testifying before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara, PW10 said just after finishing with Solo Sandeng, Tamba Mansireh, Lamin Darboe and Sallah entered the conference hall, whose first name he does not know.

When asked by Lawyer Antuman Gaye whether Sallah and Lamin Darboe were in court. The witness responded in the positive.

Mr. Mboob added that when they entered, they called Solo Sandeng; that Solo came and they surrounded and tied him and later went with him.

When asked by Barrister Gaye how was Solo tied, the witness responded that his hands and legs were tied and a rope put around his neck. "This happened at the door of the conference hall and they went with him. Lamin Darboe was holding the rope, followed by Solo Sandeng, Tamba and Sallah", he said.

At this point, Lawyer Gaye took leave of the court for the witness to identify Lamin Darboe, Tamba Mansireh and Sallah.

The witness stepped out of the dock, walked up to where the accused persons were seated and pointed at Lamin Darboe (8thaccused), Tamba Mansireh (7th accused) and Baboucarr Sallah (4th accused) respectively.

At this point Sheikh Omar Jeng (3rd accused) and Baboucarr Sallah (4th accused), were seen murmuring to each other.

When asked what Lamin Darboe was doing with the rope, the witness responded that Solo was tied with the rope and he held it and they went.

PW10 said after he was done with the interview, his Officer Commanding Lamin Cessay, asked him to go home; that this was around 1am.

"As I was going home, I passed through the back gate of the security where I found Solo Sandeng lying down. A fan was put on and I passed and went home", said PW10.

He further told the court that a security officer is always stationed at that gate and that visitors always passed there; that the securities on duty were there and Solo was lying flat on a mattress and he was not moving.

Responding to questions during cross-examination by Lawyer S. Fatty, defence Attorney for the 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th accused persons, the witness told the court that he knows Tamba, Lamin Darboe and Sallah before the incident and knew them as NIA operatives.

When the witness was asked whether he knew which units Tamba, Lamin Darboe and Sallah belong to, the witness responded that Tamba and Sallah are attached to Special Operations.

When asked to tell the court the role of the 'Special Operation' unit at the NIA, the witness responded that he doesn't know because he is not under that unit.

"Solo was lying down without moving. As a security officer and a Gambian, what did you do to him?" asked Lawyer Fatty. "I did nothing", the witness responded.

"Somebody that you interviewed and you found him in that condition?" asked Lawyer Fatty. "My duty was just to make jottings", responded the witness.

"So you never mind?", Lawyer Fatty asked. "I mind him, but I can't do nothing," responded the witness.

"When you found him lying there, did you inform your boss about it?" asked Lawyer Fatty. "No", responded the witness.

"Why didn't you inform the authorities?" asked Lawyer Fatty. "I didn't put him there", answered the witness.

"Is it correct that you didn't see any of the accused persons beating anybody?" asked Lawyer Fatty. "I saw Tamba beating Nogoi", replied the witness.

Also under cross-examination by Lawyer Dayo, Counsel for the 6th accused person, the witness was asked at what time he saw Nogoi being beaten by Tamba. The witness responded that it was around 8pm. When asked where the beating actually happened, the witness responded that it happened at the entrance of the small gate of the investigation unit.

"So I'm correct to say that the environment was bright enough for you to see the purported beating of Nogoi Njie?" asked Lawyer Dayo. "Yes, the environment was very bright", responded the witness.

When asked what the proximity was, the witness responded that it was like where he was standing in the dock and the door of the courtroom.

"I'm putting it to you that your evidence in chief is unfounded and it is an afterthought and you are not being truthful to this court," Lawyer Dayo told the witness. "Whatever I said to this court is the truth and nothing but the truth", responded the witness.

"Are you telling this court that Solo Sandeng was not tied up when he was brought to the interview hall, but he was tied up when he was leaving?" inquired Lawyer Dayo. "Yes", answered the witness.

"It is correct that others too were in the hall who could have seen the purported tying of Solo Sandeng?" asked Lawyer Dayo. "What I have seen is what I said", replied the witness.

The case continues on Monday 12th February 2018, at 12 noon for continuation of cross-examination of PW10.

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