The case of the United Democratic Party (UDP) media officer Alasana Jobarteh continues in Bundung Magistrate’s Court, with the state’s key evidence being Freedom Newspaper publication.
Mr. Jobarteh’s legal tussle before Principal Magistrate Ibrahim Kijera continued with the testimony of the second prosecution witness, Mr. Sheriff Sonko an agent of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
In the ‘broadcasting without a licence trial’ on Tuesday 25 march 2014, Mr. Sonko was asked to tell the court who Pa Nderry M’bai, the Publisher and Editor of Freedom Newspaper, was communicating with. The witness said according to the document, Pa Ndery M’bai was communicating with Mr. Jobarteh.
Under cross-examination by defence counsel Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, the witness was asked “whether he would agree that the said document was a newspaper publication.” The witness however denied that the said document was a newspaper publication.
When further asked what type of publication the document was, if it was not a newspaper publication, the witness replied that “it was a statement obtained from Jobarteh by the Freedom Newspaper.” He however admitted that the paragraph he had read under the instruction of the prosecutor was written by the Editor of the Freedom Newspaper.
At this point, Lawyer Darboe asked Mr. Sonko to read again the paragraph of the document which was admitted in evidence and marked as an exhibit. After reading the paragraph in question, Counsel Darboe again asked the witness whether he was able to verify from Mr. M’bai that he did not speak to Mr Jobarteh on that particular Sunday. The witness answered in the negative.
The witness admitted that knowing Skype, and that it is a computer system that runs on the smart phone.
Sonko was also asked about the location of Freedom Radio. He said it is located in the United States. Responding to whether he knows RFI and BBC, he replied thus: “I know Radio France International and the BBC.” Defence Counsel again asked Sonko whether it was correct that he heard people speaking to BBC on Africa Service from the Gambia. The witness answered in affirmative but was quick to add that he did not know the medium those people use.
Asked if he could tell court about who issues licence to those he hears speak on radios. “I heard people speaking to the BBC from the Gambia, but I do not know who issued them the broadcasting licence,”.
The case was adjourned to March 31st, 2014, for the continuation of cross-examination of Sheriff Sonko.
It could be recall that Mr. Alasana Jobarteh was charged with broadcasting without a licence. He was slapped with the charge after his arrest and long detention by the NIA who later handed him over to the police. Mr. Jobarteh was accused of talking on Skype using an IPOD to give information abroad without a broadcasting licence, which according to the Prosecution, violated the Gambia’s Information and Communication Act.