NIA Case: Lawyers Clashed During Re-Examination Of Witness

By Halimatou Ceesay

Defence and state lawyer clashed during re-examination of witness in the Solo Sandeng Murder trial involving Former National Intelligence Agency officials before Justice Kumba Sillah Camara of the Banjul High Court.

Late Solo Sandeng

Under re-examination by the state prosecuting counsel Rachel Y. Mendy, Seedy Saidybah, the 14th prosecution witness was asked “during cross examination by Ibrahim Jallow, the counsel for the 3rd accused Sheikh Omar Jeng, you stated in your evidence that on the previous days your duties involve checking on detainees and bringing them food. What do you mean by ‘on the previous days?”

“I am objecting to that question, there is no ambiguity in that answer given by the witness that requires a clarification,” counsel said.

He said re-examination is meant to clarify ambiguity in the answer given by the witness. He said for the witness to say previous days, there is no ambiguity in that, adding that the state counsel is trying to illicit additional evidence from the witness, which according to him is not allowed.

“I urged my lady to disallow the question,” he said.

In response state counsel Rachel Y. Mendy said first she is surprised that counsel who is not representing the 3rd accused person is objecting to a question that does not arise during his own cross examination.

“I therefore submitted that he is not the proper counsel to object,” she said.

She said however the answer is ambiguous and lead to different interpretations as to what the previous day means. She said it is a new matter that arises during cross examination.

Replying on points of law, Counsel Mene said the section 192 cited by counsel Mendy does not avail the counsel in this circumstances. He said the section is talking about the matters arising during cross examination. “This is a joint trial and any evidence adduced to against the accused persons affects all the accused persons,” said Counsel Mene.

The trial judge in her ruling said the answer need clarification and she therefore allowed the question and asked the accused to answer it.

Meanwhile the counsel for Lamin Lang Sayang 9th accused, Dayo Small-Dagoh cross examined Seedy Saidybah.

“Would you describe your relationship with the 9th accused as personal or just workmate?” counsel asked.

“It is a working relationship,” he said.

“Do you know in what capacity the 9th accused work at NIA?” he asked.

“He was our Doctor,” witness said.

“Did the 9th accused personally tell you that he was a doctor?” counsel asked.

“No he didn’t tell me that, but because he is the one in charge of our clinic,” witness said.

“Am I correct to say that you assume that the 9th accused was a doctor?” he asked.

“I can say that he is a doctor because he is the one that check on our sick detainees and prescribe medicines for them,” he said.

“Am I correct to say that the only time you saw the 9th accused was the early hours of the 15th of April, 2016 at 4am when he got off a vehicle that brought him to the NIA?” counsel asked.

“Yes I saw him around 4am when he got off a vehicle with a stethoscope around his neck,” he said.

“Was that the only time you saw him?” He asked.

“Yes,” replied the witness.

“It is in your evidence that, the next time you saw the 9th accused was on 17th April, 2016, is that correct? He asked.

“The only time I saw him was on the 15th April at 4am. On the 17th when I resumed work I went round and met the 9th accused with the female detainees (Fatoumatta Jawara, Nogoi Njie and Fatoumatta Camara) admitted at the clinic,” he said.

“I am putting it to you that on 17th April, 2016 was on Sunday and the accused person never works on Sunday at NIA,” counsel said.

“I don’t know which day was the 17th April, 2016 but the 9th accused worked on that day,” witness said.

“I am finally putting it to you that your evidence against the 9th accused person is an afterthought,” counsel said.

“All that I said is what happened,” witness stressed.

It could be recalled that the nine accused persons: Yankuba Badjie, Louie Richard Leese Gomez, Sheikh Omar Jeng, Babucarr Sallah, Yusupha Jammeh, Haruna Susso, Tamba Mansaray, Lamin Darboe and Lamin Lang Sanyang are indicted with 26 counts including conspiracy to murder, murder, assault causing grievous bodily harm, making false document without proper authority, abduction amongst others.

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