Murky Start Of Journalist’s Trial

Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay/The Point Picture
     Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay/The Point Picture

An agent of the National Intelligence Agency Special Investigation Unit on Thursday testified in the trial of the Manager of Teranga FM Radio Station. Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay is standing trial on sedition and publication of false news.

The agent, Foday Bojang, testified before Justice Mohammed Dan Azumi Balarabe of High Court in Banjul. Mr. Bojang at first declined to swear to the Quran, insisting that there was no need for it since he would tell the truth. The courts would not accept anyone – not even an NIA operative – to alter the usual tradition. The first prosecution witness then budged, swore to the Quran and began his testimony. He recognised the accused who, according to him, was arrested on July 20th. Bojang said he had later questioned Mr. Ceesay in connection with the text messages the accused had reportedly sent to two protocol officers.

“I was instructed by my immediate boss, Lamin Ceesay, to obtain a cautionary statement from the accused person. He was brought before me and I read the cautionary warnings to him in the presence of an independent witness,” he told the court.

Bojang said the accused recorded his own statement before being asked to read it over again to see whether he wants to confirm anything. He confirmed, signed and an independent witness also signed.”

The witness added that he also recorded the voluntary statement of the accused on July 27th. “I took the particulars, wrote down the charge and read it out to the accused,” he testified. “I read out the cautionary warning to the accused in the presence of an independent witness. I told the accused to write a statement to respond to the charge. He recorded that he did not agree to the charge. Thereafter, I told him to sign and an independent witness also signed,” Foday Bojang said

The Director of Public Prosecution Hadi Saleh Barkum at this point applied to tender both the cautionary and voluntary statements as exhibits.

Mr. Ceesay’s lawyer however objected to the tendering of the voluntary statement. Lawyer Combeh Gaye-Coker argued that it is against the law to tender a material that is not original in court.

The DPP quickly withdrew the voluntary statement without a fight. The court admitted the cautionary statement as an exhibit.

The witness continued his testimony, adding that the witnesses were called for their statements to be taken.

This invited defence lawyer countered, asking whether the witness took statements from the witnesses. Bojang answered in the negative. He also confirmed not doing anything apart from obtaining statements. The NIA operative said the accused did not agree to his oral evidence.

At this juncture, the prosecution applied for adjournment. The court adjourned the case until Monday, September 7th, for bail hearing and continuation.


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