The trial of the slain opposition electoral reform activist Ebrima Solo Sandeng continues at the High Court in Banjul. As evidenced in The Point Newspaper report below, the first prosecution witness spilled the beans. Read below
One Dawda Ndure, the first prosecution witness, yesterday told the court that Ebrima Solo Sandeng corpse was removed and buried by Saihou Omar Jeng, Tamba Mansary, Babucarr Sallah and some boys from the Special Operation Unit at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) annex camp in the coastal village of Tanji.
Dauda Ndure made this revelation while giving evidence as the 1st prosecution witness in the ongoing criminal trial involving the state against the former NIA officials before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the High Court in Banjul.
The accused persons are Yankuba Badjie, Louie Richards Gomez, Saihou Omar Jeng, Babucarr Sallah, Yusupha Jammeh, Haruna Susso, Tamba Mansary, Lamin Darboe and Lamin Sanyang.
They are charged with multiple offences including conspiracy to murder, murder, assaults causing actual bodily harm, conspiracy to commit misdemeanor, forgery and making false documents without authority.
Dauda Ndure, who is an official at the Counter Intelligence Service Unit at the NIA bureau in Banjul, said he knew all the accused persons as he had worked with them at the agency.
He recalled that on 14 April 2016, while at work, he was instructed to obtain the background information from some individuals.
The witness revealed that after sometime, Solo Sandeng was led into his office and he was asked to obtain his background information as well.
Dauda further revealed that as Solo Sandeng wanted to sit on the chair, he (Solo) was reprimanded by the 3rd accused, Saihou Omar Jeng, to sit on the floor while his background information was being obtained.
He said during his discussion with Solo Sandeng, he (Solo) told him that their protest was not to insult the government but to go and drop a letter at the Independent Electoral Commission office.
Dauda also said after completing his assignment with Solo Sandeng, Tamba Mansary came with some boys from the Special Operation Unit and took him away.
The witness told the court that Nogoi Njie was then led into his office by James Mendy and he started asking her questions in order to obtain her background information.
He further told the court that after he was done with Nogoi Njie, Tamba Mansary came with his boys from the Special Operation Unit and took her away.
The witness averred that after their departure, he prepared the final report and while he was in his office having sat for a very long time, he decided to take a walk around the vicinity of the premises.
The witness revealed that during that walk, he went around the back gate and passed through the security room and as he was walking through the security room, he saw Solo Sandeng lying on a mattress covered with bloodstained bed sheet.
“I stood for some time and looked at him and I was emotional and then I left. This was around 3am and there was light in the office,” Dauda said.
“I wonder how this has happened to Solo Sandeng when I just spoke with him some time ago.”
The witness told the court that he returned to his office and after waiting for a very long time, he went to look for Saihou Omar Jeng who informed him that a vehicle was coming to pick him.
He pointed out that while waiting, a vehicle came in and on board was the 9th accused person, Lamin Sanyang.
He further pointed out that Saihou Omar Jeng selected some boys to go and get spade at the newly-constructed building at the NIA premises which they did and they left for the NIA annex at Tanji.
He explained that upon arrival at the camp, the boys went to dig a grave around the banana plantation.
The witness said they drove to the NIA camp in three pick-up vans and one of them carried Solo Sandeng’s corpse and that light was on that he could see Solo Sandeng’s body in the pick-up van.
He narrated that when Solo Sandeng’s body was removed from the pick-up van, he was still lying on the mattress covered with bloodstained bed sheet.
Dauda said Solo Sandeng’s body was removed and buried by Saihou Omar Jeng, Tamba Mansary, Babucarr Sallah and some of the boys from the Special Operation Unit.
“While all these were happening, I was standing watching and after the burial, the driver was asked to take me home.”
The witness concluded his evidence-in-chief.
Under cross-examination, the legal counsel for the 1st and 2nd accused persons, C.E. Mene and E. Gomez, informed the court that they have no questions for the witness.
Responding to questions by defence counsel, lawyer Moses Richards, Dauda said the UDP suspects were brought into the NIA office, specifically into his office in the evening.
The witness also said that all the suspects were standing when they came into his office and that the Special Operation Unit is in charge of operation matters.
The witness told the court that when he found Solo Sandeng’s body covered with the bloodstained bed sheet, he did not do anything but to look as he could not report his finding to anyone.
The witness admitted that it was true that he experienced everything that transpired at Tanji and that it was also true that during the course of the investigation he was cautioned to make statement concerning this matter but not charged.
The witness revealed that he started working with the NIA in 2003 and had worked in different units at the agency since then.
When asked whether it was true that some men who do not necessarily belong to the NIA come to the NIA and do what they like and the NIA would clean up the mess thereafter.
He replied that such things never happened in his presence.
Lawyer Moses Richards put it to the witness that in 2010, when he was detained at the NIA, strange men came and demanded for him, he was tortured by them and they left.
The witness said he was never aware of Richards’ ordeal.
Hearing continues today at midday.
Author: Bruce Asemota