Alleged Coup Plotters Arriving at court
By Landing Ceesay
The Fifth Prosecution Witness (PW5) in the alleged coup plotters’ trial told the court that the 5th accused person (Fabakary Jawara) agreed to the concealment of treason charged after a cautionary statement was read to him.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Sanusi Darboe, appeared before Justice Basiru B.V.P Mahoney of the High Court of the Gambia.
ASP Darboe told the court that he recognized both accused persons during his interaction with them as a member of the joint investigative panel set up by the Gambia government.
ASP Darboe told the court that he interacted with them at the State Intelligence Service (SIS) Headquarters in Banjul.
ASP Darboe further told the court that the investigative team was assigned to investigate the alleged Coup Plotters.
When asked whether anything transpired between him and the accused persons, ASP Darboe responded in affirmative and told the court that he was tasked to obtain cautionary and voluntary statements from Sanna Fadera (1st accused), Ebrima Sannoh (3rd accused) and Fabakary Jawara (5th accused).
“The 1st accused (Sanna Fadera), I was tasked to obtain his cautionary statement after the joint investigative panel’s interrogation. The same thing with the 3rd accused (Ebrima Sannoh) and the 5th accused person (Fabakary Jawara) as well,” the witness told the court.
ASP Darboe confirmed to the court that he obtained cautionary statements from the accused persons. Asked how he obtained the statements from the accused, he gave the court a rundown of how he did it starting with the 1st accused, Sanna Fadera.
“After the joint interrogation, I took him (Sanna Fadera) to a separate office where he was speaking in English and I told him that I am assigned to take his cautionary statement. I read the cautionary wordings to him. I told him that anything he said will be taken down in writing. He (Sanna Fadera) then opted to write his own statement by writing his own details and wrote my name as the person who administered him.
“He (Sanna Fadera) signed and went further to write his own statement voluntarily without any force. At the end of which he signed and it was endorsed by an independent witness. I also administer the voluntary statement from him. In this case, he was cautioned and charged on 3 counts in which he (Sanna Fadera) denied all counts. And he signed and it was endorsed by an independent witness,” the witness told the court.
ASP Darboe told the court that he took the 3rd accused person (Ebrima Sannoh) also to a separate office and read the cautionary wordings to him but he refused to give testimony.
“I took him (Ebrima Sannoh) also to a separate office and told him that I am assigned to take his cautionary statement. He was speaking in English, and he (Ebrima Sannoh) opted not to speak until when he reached the court. And that was captured, signed and it was endorsed by an independent witness. I obtained a voluntary statement from him (Ebrima Sannoh) and charge him with 3 counts and he denied all of them,” the witness testified.
The witness told the court that the 5th accused person, Fabakary Jawara’s statement was obtained at the Police Anti-Crime Unit After his appearance before the Joint investigative panel at SIS Headquarters.
“At the Police Anti Crime Unit, I informed him (Fabakary Jawara) that I am about to write his customary statement. Speaking in the English Language, I read the cautionary wordings to him. He (Fabakary Jawara) opted to write his own statement, fill in his details, and wrote my name as the person who administered him. He wrote his statement voluntarily without any force.
“I also obtain a voluntary statement from him. I read the cautionary wordings to him and charge him with one count of concealment of treason. The charge he agreed to. But there was no independent witness due to the weekend and a public holiday. However, on Tuesday, an Independent witness was brought in and he (Fabakary Jawara) read his cautionary statement before the independent witness. The voluntary statement was also read before an independent witness. Both statements were signed and endorsed by the independent witness,” ASP Darboe told the court.
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The Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, A.M Yusuf, the counsel representing the State gave documents to the witness for identification. The witness identified the said documents as the statements he obtained from Ebrima Sannoh (3rd accused).
The State Counsel A.M Yusuf applied to tender the documents as part of Prosecution Evidence.
The defense team did not object to the documents after going through them. Justice Mahoney then admitted Ebrima Sannoh’s cautionary statement as exhibit P1 and the voluntary statement as exhibit P2.
The witness also identified Sanna Fadera’s (1st accused person) cautionary and voluntary statements. The state counsel. tenders them and without objections from the defence, Justice Mahoney admitted Sanna Fadera’s cautionary statement as exhibit P3, and the voluntary statement was admitted as Exhibit P4.
The witness identified Fabakary Jawara’s cautionary and voluntary statements when it was shown to him for identification. The State Counsel A.M. Yusuf applied to tender the documents as part of their evidence. However, Lawyer LS Camara, the Counsel representing the 1st and 5th accused persons objected to the documents.
Counsel LS Camara said it is their submission that both the cautionary and voluntary statements of the 5th accused person are not admissible concerning the circumstances they were taken.
“My lord both statements appear to be confessions to some extent. And the law that is the Evidence Act clearly stated that in obtaining any statement or confession certain parameters and guidelines must be followed,” Counsel LS Camara told the court.
Counsel LS Camara cited Section 31 subsection 2 of the Evidence Act. Which States that “A confession shall not be admissible if the statement was made by an accused while under arrest, detention or restriction by state agents unless the confession was made in writing by the accused or someone on his behalf and signed or thump printed by the accused in the presence of an independent witness such witness not be a member of Police or Armed or Security agent.”
Counsel LS Camara said the language of the Evidence Act is categorically clear as to the need for an independent witness and how the statement should be obtained.
Counsel LS Camara told the Court that at the time the statement was recorded there was no independent witness present.
“My lord, It was only the independent witness who signed on Tuesday after the public holiday. The statements were recorded in the absence of the independent witness. The statements were taken before the Independent witness arrived,” Counsel LS Camara told the court.
In response to Counsel LS Camara, A.M Yusuf for the State told the court that the Cautionary statement was not recorded by anybody other than the accused person.
Counsel A.M. Yusuf argued that the statements are admissible and that the statements were not taken in force.
“It is our submission that the evidence before us that the cautionary statement was taken without any form of force. There is no other evidence before us to counter that evidence,” Counsel A.M Yusuf told the court.
After hearing the submission of both Counsel, Justice Mahoney then adjourned the case until Wednesday 22nd March 2023 for determination on the objection and continuation of the case.
Sanna Fadera (the 1st accused) and 3 other soldiers of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) and a Police Officer from the Gambia Police Force (GPF).
The Four (4) Soldiers and one (1) Police Officer are accused of an attempted alleged Coup and been charged with 5 counts including treason.
The People who are charged are; Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera (1st accused) Private Officer, Gibril Darboe (2nd accused) Corporal Ebrima Sannoh (3rd accused), and Corporal Omar Njie (4th accused), Fabakary Jawara (5th accused) is the Police Officer charged alongside the Soldiers.