Alleged coup plotters at court
By Landing Ceesay
The Prosecution (State) in the alleged coup plotters trial has tendered a document purported to be the alleged plotters’ Operational plans to the court.
The Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, A.M Yusuf, appearing for the state in the treason trial involving 4 soldiers and a police officer, tendered a document labeled operational plans after it was identified by the Sixth Prosecution Witness (PW6), police investigator, ASP Jally M. I. Senghore, continued his testimony in the alleged coup plotters’ trial before Justice Basiru B.V.P Mahoney of the High Court of the Gambia.
The Four (4) Soldiers and one (1) Police Officer are accused of an attempting to overthrow the government of Adama Barrow and been charged with 5 counts, including treason.
The defendants standing trial for their alleged involvement in the coup plot 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.
ASP Senghore told the court that the accused persons were brought together with their mobile phones before the investigative panel set up by the Gambia government.
It is ASP Senghore’s testimony that the accused persons were brought together with 6 mobile phones.
ASP Senghore said one phone belongs to the 1st accused person (Sanna Fadera), one phone, belongs to the 2nd accused person (Gibril Darboe), two belong to the 3rd accused person (Ebrima Sannoh), and two belong to the 4th accused person (Omar Njie).
“If you see the phone that belongs to the 1st accused, can you identify it,” Counsel A.M. Yusuf asked.
“Yes, it is labeled, and his name is written on it,” ASP Senghore responded.
The 1st accused person’s phone was shown to the witness for identification, and it was identified as one of the phones brought before the panel.
Counsel for the State A.M. Yusuf applied to tender the phone as part of the prosecution exhibits.
Counsel LS Camara for the 1st and 5th accused persons objected to the submission of the phone said to belong to the 1st accused person into evidence.
“We are objecting to all the phones. The phones are not labeled to specify the kind of phones they are to tender before this Hon. Court. But in their additional list of evidence, the phones are not labeled. The phones need to be specified whether it is Samsung, Alcatel, Nokia, etc. We need to know what kind of phones are being tendered. My lord, the other thing is that the additional list of evidence, said a mobile phone, and they have brought 6 phones to the court. So we are objecting to the submission of this phone,” Counsel LS Camara argued.
In response to Counsel LS Camara’s submission, State Counsel A.M Yusuf told the court he will withdraw his application and do proper notice for the submission of the phones.
“Counsel Camara, what did you have to say about that, do you have any objection,?” Justice Mahoney asked.
“I have no objection to that, my lord,” Counsel LS Camara responded.
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Continuing his testimony, ASP Senghore told the court that the panel of investigators seized Karamo Jatta’s phone. He was alleged to be frequently communicating with the 1st accused person (Sanna Fadera).
ASP Senghore told the Court that when the panel members went through the phone of Karama Jatta, they found audio conversations between him and the 1st accused person.
“We found Audio conversations between him (Karamo Jatta)and the 1st accused, as well as photos and documents labeled operational plans. The panel also discovered a hard copy of a document labeled operational plans and the Development of Commanders. Both of them were transferred to a flash drive. The audio conversations between Karamo Jatta and the 1st accused were also transferred from Karamo’s phone to the flash drive,” the witness told the court.
ASP Senghore told the court that the documents and audio were all retrieved and handed over to the prosecution.
The witness was given the hard copy of a document labeled operational plans for identification, and the witness identified it as the one the investigative panel retrieved from Karamo Jatta’s phone.
The prosecution then applied to tender the said document as part of their exhibits and without any objection from the defence counsel, the judge admitted it into evidence as prosecution exhibits P11.
When asked what the panel did to the phone seized from Karamo Jatta, ASP Senghore said after they extracted the audio conversations, the panel examined the phone thoroughly and kept it. The phone was later handed over to the prosecution along with the files.
When Counsel A.M Yusuf for the State asked him to describe the phone, ASP Senghore said the phone was an Android phone, and had a crack on the screen with notes on the sides.
The witness was given an Android phone for identification, and he identified it as the one the panel seized from Karamo Jatta, where they discovered conversations, photos, and a document labeled Operational Plans.
After the witness’s identification, the phone was given to Counsel LS Camara for the 1st and 5th accused persons to look at.
Shortly after looking at the phone, Counsel LS Camara objected to the admission of the phone into evidence.
“My lord, we are objecting to the admission of the phone into evidence. The witness said the phone has a crack and notes on its sides. The phone before this court has no notes on its sides. Also, a proper foundation was not laid before the court. Because the witness did not properly describe the phone. We are urging this Hon. Court to reject this phone.
“The prosecution is also obliged to provide the defense with the list of evidence, even if that particular evidence is inimical to the prosecution. But there is nothing before this court that described this phone sought to be tendered by the prosecution. My lord, there is no surprise in criminal proceedings and no evidence should come by the bull of its horns. We therefore respectfully enjoin your lordship to reject this phone,” Counsel LS Camara argued.
Counsel J. Jobarteh for the 3rd accused person also argued that Android is an operating system, which comes in different brands, including Samsung, Nokia, and so on.
He argued that the description given to the court by the witness is not sufficient for the court to admit the phone into evidence.
While responding to the arguments of the defense Counsels, A.M. Yusuf for the State said he withdrew his previous application because that phone was not listed as part of the exhibits.
“Are you sure this one is listed on the evidence list?” Justice Mahoney asked.
“Yes, it is listed on the additional list of evidence filed on 15th March 2023,” the State Counsel A.M. Yusuf responded.
The State Counsel further argued that the witness has sufficiently described the said mobile phone belonging to Karamo Jatta.
“My lord, the witness gave technical features of the phone, which he said is Android. He also gave the physical features of the phone, which he said had cracks. There is no law whatsoever that says the name of a phone should be described in court. In their argument, they made mentioned Nokia as an example. There could be 1001 types of Nokia. Therefore, it is our submission that my lord, individuals understanding of facts are different from one another.
“Section 175 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) does not support in any way the argument of my learned counsels. Also, Section 24 sub 3 B of the 1997 Constitution did not require the name of a mobile phone for a fair hearing. The witness told the court that the items recovered from Karamo Jatta by a team of investigators included mobile phones. It is also on the record that the mobile phone from Karamo Jatta contained certain information during the course of the investigation. It is our fervent submission that the said mobile phone should be admitted without any ambiguity. We urged this Hon. Court to overrule this objection and admit the mobile into evidence,” State Counsel A.M Yusuf argued.
Justice Mahoney then adjourned the case to the 11th of April 2023 for a ruling on the matter and continuation of the case.