By Yankuba Jallow
Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara, the presiding judge in the NIA 9 trial, has on Tuesday, 9th November sent five former intelligence operatives of the National Intelligence Agency back to Mile 2 for failing to enter the dock when their names were called.
This is the longest high profile case that is still going on under the new dispensation. The accused persons were arrested within days after President Adama Barrow was sworn-in on the 18th February 2017 and have been under detention all this while. The long standing trial has suffered several setbacks.
When the Clerk of the court called the names of the accused persons to enter the dock, the former intelligence officers refused to enter except one who proceeded and entered the dock.
The security officers want the Judge to recuse herself from the case for they lack confidence in her among other allegations, but the Judge ruled against them and is still presiding over the case.
The accused persons who refused to enter the dock were; former director general Yankuba Badjie, former deputy director of operations Sheikh Omar Jeng, Baboucar Sallah, Tamba Masireh, Haruna Suso and Lamin Darboe. Lamin Lang Sanyang, the 9th accused person and a medic, is the only one who entered the dock.
Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara called prison warden Sergeant Lamin Dibba asking him who brought the accused persons in court. Sergeant Dibba said his office got information that they should bring them to court. After hearing this, Justice Kumba told him that the accused persons should not be brought to court unless they are ready to enter the dock.
“Please, remove them from our court immediately,” she said.
She added: “Whoever brings them here again I will hold the person responsible.”
The Judge said that was the second time the accused persons behaved in that manner by refusing to enter the dock.
Lamin Lang Sanyang, the only accused person who was left in court informed the Judge that he was ready to proceed with his Defence of the case but Justice Kumba told him to wait.
The seven accused persons are standing trial on 25 criminal counts including murder, torture and conspiracy. They denied culpability. The accused persons have been in detention for 4 years now.
The case was scheduled for the former NIA operatives to cross-examine five additional prosecution witnesses that were called by the prosecution. Lawyer Antouman A.B.Gaye, the lead prosecutor in the case said the accused persons are defiant to the court’s order. Gaye applied for the court to close the accused persons from cross-examining the five new prosecution witnesses.
“There must be an end to litigation because it is in the public interest. This matter has been going on for a very long time with several setbacks,” Gaye said.
Justice Kumba closed the five accused persons from cross-examining the five new prosecution witnesses. She also discharged the witnesses.
In her ruling, she gave Yankuba Badjie one week to file his no case to answer submission in line with the directive of the Gambia Court of Appeal. She ordered that the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th accused persons will open their Defence thereafter.
She adjourned the case to Wednesday, 17th November 2021 at 1 pm for the Defence to open their case and/or continue with their Defence.
Currently, the lawyers for the accused persons have all withdrawn their representation. The accused persons were all alone in court.