Sunday, February 5, 2023

Court Visits Drug Squad Facility Housing Cocaine

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By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)

Justice Zainab Ngui Mboov of the Bakau High Court has on Wednesday, 4th Janauary visited the DLEAG facility in Bijilo housing 118 bags of suspected cocaine, a prohibited drug.

The court’s sitting in this matter was held at the Drug Law Enforcement Agency of The Gambia facility.

Senior State Counsel announced representation for the State while Lawyer Sheriff Marie Tambadou appeared for Santa Keita (who is at large) and Lawyer Badou S.M. Conteh appeared for Sheriff Njie (who was present).

The matter was for the continuation of evidence by Lamin Gassama, Director of Intelligence at DLEAG. Gassama began giving evidence in court and was interposed to allow for the court’s visit to the site.

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Gassama testified that the 118 bags of the suspected cocaine are stored in a container they were found. He said test was done on them and the result was positive.

“We are seeing three containers which of container among the three contains the cocaine?” Counsel Jarju asked.

“The one in the middle- red in colour SUDU 753175 Hamburg Sud. It is important to note that at the time of the shipment, the four containers were shipped but one contained the drug and the other three were used to seal the drug,” Gassama said.

“Did the three containers contain anything?,” Counsel L. Jarju asked.

“Yes, they contain industrial salt as a cover up,” the witness answered.

Gassama said the suspected drugs were in white bags of 25 kg.

The Court asked for the container to be opened and a grinding machine was used to destroy the lock.

Counsel L. Jarju asked whether the iron bar that was removed during the opening of the container came with the container. In response to the question, the witness said the iron bar did not come with the container rather it was put for extra security of the drugs.

The witness said each of the padlock have a key which was given to different officers within the ranks of DLEAG.

The third layer (seal) of the container was also opened using a   grinding. The alleged cocaine bags were counted and the count confirmed the total to 118 bags.

According Gassama the bags were marked B1 to B118 to differentiate the cocaine from the salt.The Container and the 188 bags were tendered as Exhibits. There was no objection by the Defence and the court admitted them into the records as F118 and G8

The court moved to the side were the allged vehicles were stationed in the same premises. The State Lawyer tendered the vehicles and a boat as Exhibits. They were marked as H, I and I(1) and J.

The witness informed the court that they were able to secure the boat from a mechanic through information but the mechanic told them that the boat was brought for maintenance and since Banta Keita is not around the boat documents couldn’t be available.

He further told the court that the golf was insured in the name of Sheriff Njie, but Sheriff informed them during investigations that the vehicle was only insured in his name, but it belongs to Banta Keita.

The State Counsel requested for the evidence (drug, containers, vehicles and boat) to be kept in the custody  the court so that the court can deal with anyone who tampers with the evidence.

Counsel L. Jarju also make another application relying on section 52 Anti-Laundering law that the range rover and gold car are perishable items as applied for the vehicles to be put on sale and the money to be kept in the Bank pending the determination of the case. Jarju stressed that the value of the vehicles are going down.

Senior Lawyer S.M Tambadou objected to the application and requested time to reply to the application.

The court then asked the witness to close the container and keys handover to the court. The court was then adjourned to Thursday for the cross-examination of Lamin Gassama and the reply on the application of the state at 12:30 pm.

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