By Landing Ceesay
Justice Basiru B.V.P Mahoney of the High Court of the Gambia has disallowed the Prosecution’s re-examination questions in a treason trial involving members of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) and police.
The judge’s decision came after the defense counsels closed their cross-examination of Seventh Prosecution Witness (PW7) Sergeant Karamo Jatta, who is a member of the GAF.
Deputy Director of Prosecution A.M Yusuf, appearing for the state, then raised to re-examine PW7. Counsel Yusuf asked Sergeant Jatta to tell the court the content of his conversation with the 1st accused (Sanna Fadera).
However, Counsel LS Camara for the 1st and 5th accused objected to that question.
“There is no such thing that would require re-examination in this case. This is an attempt to open the prosecution case. This question ought to have been asked during the testimony of the witness, not at this stage. We urged this court to reject this question,” Counsel LS Camara argued.
State Counsel A.M. Yusuf responded that the question was asked to give the court the opportunity to learn what transpired between Sergeant Jatta and the first accused.
Justice Mahoney agreed with Counsel LS Camara’s submission that Counsel Yusuf’s question should have been asked during Sergeant Jatta’s testimony. He sustained Counsel Camara’s objection and disallowed Counsel Yusuf’s question.
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Counsel Yusuf, in his continued attempt to re-examine, asked Sergeant Jatta to play the audio recording of his conversation with the first accused person from his phone.
Counsel LS Camara objected to State Counsel A.M Yusuf’s question again.
Camara argued that Yusuf should have asked about the content of the phone when it was first presented as evidence. He said that asking about the content now, after the phone has been marked and entered into evidence, is prejudicial.
“The content of the phone ought to be known to my learned friend before tendering it to the court. My lord, we respectfully enjoin this Honourable court to refuse this question and any application to adduce new evidence. Finally, my lord, the witness also did not identify which phone the information is actually in because two phones were tendered on that day,” Counsel LS Camara argued.
State Counsel A.M Yusuf responded to Counsel LS Camara’s objection by arguing that the witness (Sergeant Jatta) before them is the right person to identify the 1st accused person’s voice. He therefore requested that Sergeant Jatta be allowed to play the audio for the court.
“This is a court of justice, whatever we seek from the court should be based on justice than mere technicality. My lord, it will not harm either side if those conversations are played in the court,” Counsel A.M Yusuf argued.
In his reply to Counsel A.M. Yusuf on a point of law, Counsel L.S. Camara told the court that Police Investigator PW6 laid the foundation for Sergeant Jatta. Counsel Camara said that PW6 could have played the audio recording to the court but did not.
“Secondly, my lord, this audio is not served on the defence. We will withdraw our objection if the prosecution can provide evidence that we were served this audio,” Counsel LS Camara challenged the prosecutors.
In his ruling, Justice Mahoney stated that the state counsel’s question asking the witness to play the audio in court was the same as the previous one that he had disallowed. Justice Mahoney also stated that this question was not permissible under the rules of re-examination.
“These rules are meant to follow, especially in this criminal case. I, therefore, sustain the objection and disallow the question,” Justice Mahoney ruled.
Sergeant Jatta is testifying in the treason trial involving members of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), and a member of 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 Soldiers and Police Officer 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.