Military Officer Cross-Examined In Alleged Coup Plotters’ Trial
By Landing Ceesay
Sergeant Karamo Jatta, a military officer in the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), was cross-examined before Justice Basiru B.V.P. Mahoney of the High Court during the trial of alleged coup plotters.
Sergeant Jatta is testifying in a treason trial that involves members of the GAF and the Gambia Police Force (GPF). Four soldiers and one police officer are accused of attempting a coup and have been charged with five counts, including treason.
The Soldiers and a 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.
Sergeant Jatta, under cross-examination, admitted that he did not have any tangible evidence to support his claim that a meeting took place in Kafuta regarding the alleged coup.
“You do not have any tangible evidence to support your claim that the alleged meeting took place in Kafuta,” Counsel LS Camara for the 1st and 5th accused asked.
“I did not have evidence,” Sergeant Jatta responded.
“According to exhibit P10 (Call Recording of the accused persons) you have communicated with this number 7××××× almost 5 times,” Counsel LS Camara asked.
“I did not confirm that it is five times,” Sergeant Jatta responded.
“I did not pass the common entrance, but I can count from 1 to 5,” Counsel LS Camara told Sergeant Jatta.
“Yes, it is 5 times,” Sergeant Jatta confirmed to the court.
When asked if he remembered what he discussed on the phone with the person who owns 7××××××, Sergeant Jatta said he did not remember.
“Is there anything on exhibit P10 that suggests what you discuss with the number 7×××××× you have been constantly communicating with,” Counsel LS Camara asked? “No,” Sergeant Jatta responded. Sergeant Jatta was shown Exhibits P9 and P10, which were call recordings of the accused persons. He was asked how many times his number appeared on the recordings. Sergeant Jatta saw his number on numerous pages of Exhibits P9 and P10, but he told the court that he could not remember who owned the numbers or what he was communicating about. He also said that he could not remember what he discussed with the owners of the numbers 2×××××× and 7×××××.
Sergeant Jatta’s number appeared on exhibit P10 five times. While his number appeared five times on exhibit P9 as well.
Counsel LS Camara: “Does exhibit P9 suggest what you were discussing with the number 2××××××× whom you have been repeatedly in contact with.?” Sergeant Jatta responded in the negative.
Sergeant Jatta confirmed to the court that he gave a detailed statement to the investigators in connection to the alleged coup.
When asked whether he remembered the author of the statement, the Sergeant told the court that he was the author of the statement.
“Do you remember everything you wrote in that statement,” Counsel LS Camara asked.
“I may not remember everything,” Sergeant Jatta responded.
“My lord, I don’t think that’s a proper language to respond to my question. The witness ought to give a proper response to my questions,” Counsel LS told the court.
“It is possible I will not remember everything,” Sergeant Jatta answered.
“These are the kind of answers I like. Do you know whether you recalled everything from the statement when you were given your testimony here in the court,” Counsel LS Camara asked.
“It might be possible I skip certain things,” Sergeant Jatta told the court.
The statement Sergeant Jatta said he wrote during the investigation was shown to him, and he identified it as his and confirmed to the court that it was the one he wrote.
Counsel LS Camara then applied to tender the said statement into the evidence. State Counsel A.M Yusuf, did not object to it and Justice Mahoney admitted it into evidence as exhibit DE6.
“For how long did you say you have been in the military.?” Counsel LS Camara asked.
“20 years now,” Sergeant Jatta responded.
“I am putting it to you that you have only been in the military for 16 years,” Counsel LS Camara put it to Sergeant Jatta.
However, Sergeant Jatta insisted that he has been in the military for 20 years now.
“I am putting it to you that you have not been in the military between 2013 and 2017,” Counsel LS Camara put it to Sergeant Jatta.
“Yes, I have not,” Sergeant Jatta agreed that he was not in the military in that period.
“Were you working during this period,” Counsel LS Camara asked.
Sergeant Jatta told the court that he was at home during that period.
Counsel LS Camara asked Sergeant Jatta whether he was not working at all during that period.
Sergeant Jatta told the court that he was a commercial van driver.
“I am putting it to you that between this period you were working for the National Intelligence Agency (NIA),” Counsel LS Camara told Sergeant Jatta.
“Yes, I was also working for them,” Sergeant Jatta told the court.
Counsel LS Camara: “In your evidence in chief, you told the court that you reported the alleged coup to the higher authority.”
Sergeant Jatta told the court that he did report the matter to the higher authority.
Counsel LS Camara: “Can you look at exhibit DE 6 which is your writing during the investigation and show this court where you wrote that you reported the matter to the higher authority.”
“No, it is not there,” Sergeant Jatta reported.
Meanwhile, the Lawyer for the 3rd accused person (Ebrima Sannoh) Counsel J. Jobarteh also cross-examined Sergeant Jatta.
“Are you aware that Ebrima Sannoh was on a study leave,” Counsel J. Jobarteh asked Sergeant Jatta.
“That’s what he (Ebrima Sannoh) told me when we met at Kafuta,” Sergeant Jatta answered.
“Can you look at your statement and show us where Sannoh told you that he was on a study leave,” Counsel J. Jobarteh asked again.
“I did not put it there,” Sergeant Jatta responded.
“I am putting it to you that your that statement is unfounded,” Counsel J. Jobarteh told Sergeant Jatta.
“Based On your military experience, can a person on study leave move troops,” Counsel J. Jobarteh asked?
Sergeant Jatta told the court that he can actually move a troop even on study leave.
“Does a person on study leave carry command responsibilities,” Counsel J. Jobarteh asked again.
“If it is necessary, he can,” Sergeant Jatta responded.
Justice Mahoney then asked State Counsel A.M Yusuf whether he had any re-examination questions, and he responded in the positive.
“You remember saying that you recorded and saved your conversation with the 1st accused,” A.M. Yusuf asked. And Sergeant Jatta responded in the positive.
“Do you remember saying 5 times,” A.M. Yusuf asked again. And Sergeant Jatta responded in the positive.
A.M. Yusuf asked Sergeant Jatta to tell the court what those conversations were based on. Which prompted an objection from defense counsel, LS Camara.
“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 be asked during the testimony of the witness, not at this stage. We urged this court to reject this question,” Counsel LS Camara argued.
In response, State Counsel A.M Yusuf said the question is to give the court the opportunity to know what happened between Sergeant Jatta and the 1st accused.