Saturday, February 4, 2023

Court Admits Several Audios in Sabally’s Defamation Trial

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By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)

Justice Bakre of the high court annex in Banjul has admitted several audios in a defamation case brought against Momodou Sabally, UDP’s Campaign Manager.

Sabally is sued by Abubakarr Jawara, the Chief Executive Officer of GACH Global claiming the sum of eight (8) million dalasis and an unreserved apology from the politician. Sabally denied making any defamatory remarks against the business tycoon. Sabs, as he is fondly called by the youth folk stated in his statement in defence that Jawara is a politically exposed person and he denied every claim Jawara made against him.

The matter is at a pre-trial stage and the parties in the case are required to tender evidence before hearing commences in the case.

Lawyer Abdoulie Fatty represented for the Defendant (Momodou Sabally) while Lawyer Ida Drammeh appeared for the Plaintiff (Abubacar Jawara).

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Lawyer Drammeh continued tendering the pieces of evidence the Plaintiff intends to rely on during the trial. 

Senior Lawyer Drammeh tendered an audio (marked Audio 2) with its transcription in evidence, but Counsel Abdoulie Fatty objected to the admissibility of the evidence.

“There is nothing here that is relevant to this case”, Counsel Fatty said. 

Lawyer Fatty further argued that there is nothing said in the transcript of Audio 2 which is relevant to the case, therefore, he urged the court to reject both pieces of evidence.

The presiding Judge, Justice Bakre intervened to say, the relevance of the transcript and the audio is determined by the pleadings. He stated that Lawyer Fatty wouldn’t have known some of the things that are contained in the audio. 

Lawyer Drammeh came in when the Judge asked her what is contained in audio two (2). She said the audio contains what Momodou Sabally said about the President, NPP, and the imported guns and drugs; also, Sabally said people are spoiling the country and he won’t be silenced over it.

Counsel Fatty interjected saying what Sabally said in the transcript has no connection to the issue before the Court. He added that they are political remarks made by a politician who is a public figure, and it is not connected to the issue before the court.

At this point, Justice Bakre asked Counsel Fatty, “what is the case about.” 

“It is a defamation case”, Fatty replied.

Therein, the Judge called on Counsel Fatty to allow for the audio to be admitted in order to know its content. Counsel Fatty then withdrew his objection and both The audio 2 were admitted as Exhibits PF2A and PF2B.

The lawyer then proceeded to tender audio three (3) and its transcription. When asked by the Judge whether he will object to it, he said he didn’t have any objection to it. Audio three and its transcript were also admitted as exhibit PF4A and PF4B.

Again, Counsel Drammeh applied to tender audio four (4), but this time Lawyer Fatty objected to its admissibility. 

“My Lord, I am objecting to audio four (4). I have listened to it and its content. There is nothing in the audio that talks about guns or drugs,” Fatty said.

He said he cannot see anything remotely relevant to the issue. 

“The only thing in the audio is normal political talks,” Fatty said.

Lawyer Drammeh nterjected saying it is her submission that audio four is part of the audio made by Momodou Sabally and it is where he criticized the President.

At this point, Counsel Fatty said he didn’t listen to the audio first, but going by the transcript, the Defendant is a politician who speaks all the time about political issues affecting the country.

“In the context of what he said, you think it is not relevant”, the Judge asked. 

“My Lord, we are not here to see how politicians speak”, Counsel Fatty replied.

Fatty added that the President is not a party to the case: he insisted.

“I’m seeing issues in the transcription way back in the independence of last year,” Fatty said.

Lawyer Drammeh referred the court to paragraphs 10 and 15 of the statement of defense and also referred the court to paragraphs 22, 23, and 24 of the statement pledging where it’s said that publications were made in the public interest. 

Lawyer Drammeh continued to say if you look at the justification you will that it is directed to the president and one will see the different way the defendant address others with respect and the other one lack of respect.

Lawyer Fatty said the statement of defence indicated that Sabally is a social commentator, public speaker and motivational speaker.

He said since the Sabally is a public speaker and the content of the audio talks about an issue that may be of public interest, then the audio may be relevant and hereby marked as exhibit PF5 A and PF5B.

Lawyer Drammeh moved again and applied to tender a Facebook publication that was made by Sabally on 11th January 2021. This was not objected to by Counsel Fatty.

“I have no objection to this one. I don’t want to take the court for another marathon for electronic-generated materials,” he said.

It was admitted as exhibit PF6. Another two publications were also admitted as exhibit PF7 (a) and (b). Also, Defendant’s mining licence was admitted as exhibit PF8 (a) while the license for the imported guns as (b). The letters from Plaintiff’s business partner were also admitted as F9 (a) and (b).

Still, Drammeh Added another Facebook posting, which according to her, one was suggesting that the plaintiff be charged with economic crime, and the other, where he said he is not going to apologize to the Plaintiff. They were not objected, and they were admitted as exhibit PF10 (a) and (b). 

“These are the documents the Plaintiff seeks to rely on in this case”, Lawyer Ida Drammeh concluded.

Counsel for Defence, Abdoulie Fatty said there are two documents he also wants to be admitted: the first one is the appointment letter of the Plaintiff to China as a Consular. The second is a flash drive containing a video of the Plaintiff. The video doesn’t have a transcript but is accompanied by a certificate. The appointment letter was admitted as exhibit PF1 while the flash drive containing the video was PF2.

When asked by the Judge how many witnesses both have, the lawyer for the Plaintiff said she had 4 witnesses, and Defence said they have only one witness. 

The case was adjourned to 17th February 2023, from 9 am to 1 pm for a definite trial

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