By Yankuba Jallow and Nelson Manneh
Lawyer Lamin S. Camara on Tuesday cross examined Sheikh Omar Jeng, a former deputy director of operations.
Lawyer LS Camara took over from Lawyer Antouman A.B. Gaye, the lead prosecutor in this case. Camara comtinued from where Gaye stopped on Monday.
Camara: Is the National Intelligence Agency under the Inspector General of Police? Jeng: No, my lady.
Camara: Can the head of a security institution order another security institution like the NIA to detain persons?
Jeng: That is not up to my knowledge.
Jeng: On that particular day, the Inspector General of Police Yankuba Sonko requested for three vehicles to escort the protesters to the NIA for whatsoever reason I don’t know.
Camara: Has it ever happened in your 17 years career?
Jeng: For the records, I spent 23 years there up to the time of my arrest. Not that which I could recall.
Camara: Now, 20 to 30 demonstrators who were detained at the PIU headquarters at the time, were in lawful police custody.
Jeng: My lady, I can only speak of that which I know. I wouldn’t know.
Camara: When demonstrators are arrested by security agents, which of the security institutions should deal with the demonstrators?
Jeng: My lady, it depends on which security agency effected the arrest but ordinary I will suppose it is the police.
Camara: In the case of the UDP demonstrators, who effected the arrest and detention initially?
Jeng: It was the Gambia Police Force.
Camara: Therefore, going by your recent statement, they were under lawful custody under the Gambia Police Force?
Jeng: I would suppose so, even though what the exact provisions are.
Camara: Can you tell this honourable court what authority the NIA have in possessing those detainees and taking them from the custody of the police?
Jeng: My lady, the NIA never took the detainees from the custody of the PIU – it was the PIU that escorted them to the NIA in handcuffs under the instruction of the Inspector General of Police.
Camara: Could you have declined the instruction supposedly from the Inspector General of Police?
Jeng: Yes, my lady because my instruction don’t come from the Inspector General of Police.
Camara: Under which command were they – the Patrol Team?
Jeng: The Patrol Team and their vehicles were under my command.
Camara: The Patrol Team wouldn’t have transported these detainees without the instruction of your command.
Jeng: My lady the Patrol Teams were never involved in the transportation of the detainees. Three vehicles and three drivers under my command were provided upon the request of the Inspector General of Police through my Director General.
Camara: Therefore, the drivers of those vehicles in the Patrol Team would not have transported the detainees to the NIA without your instruction.
Jeng: Certainly, my lady.
Camara: Mr Jeng you are aware that the PIU have several vehicles and trucks.
Jeng: Yes, my lady.
Camara: And because they have several vehicles at their disposal, therefore, they would have used one of those vehicles to transport the UDP detainees to the NIA premises if the initiative or instruction was from the IGP?
Jeng: On this day in question, I saw only one PIU truck and the IG requested for vehicles from the NIA.
Camara: At what time did the detainees – the initial batch arrested arrived at the NIA headquarters?
Jeng: I don’t know the exact time because they left me at the PIU headquarters.
Camara: What about those that were picked up from Mile 2?
Jeng: After 20:00 but I cannot recall the exact time
Camara: Were you at the NIA when they arrived?
Jeng: Yes, my lady. I was.
Camara: It is correct that you sent your drivers to go and pick them.
Jeng: My lady, I conveyed the instruction of the Deputy Director General Louis R. Gomez to Yusupha Jammeh, who was the 5th accused [person] in this case.
Camara: Therefore, it was you who gave the instruction to the person who went and pick up the detainees from Mile 2.
Jeng: I didn’t give the instruction. I conveyed the instruction of the Deputy Director General.
Camara: Did you or did you not give instruction to the drivers to go and pick the detainees from Mile 2?
Jeng: I conveyed the instruction of the Deputy Director General.
Camara: That does not answer my question. Did you or did you not? Did the Deputy DG speak directly to Yusupha Jammeh?
Jeng: No, my lady.
Camara: Who told Yusupha Jammeh to go and bring the detainees at Mile 2?
Jeng: I spoke to Yusupha Jammeh in conveying the instruction of the Deputy Director General.
Camara: It is correct that Yusupha Jammeh is an operative under your command.
Jeng: He was.
Camara: And the Directorate of Operations was responsible for the transportation of the detainees at the NIA?
Jeng: Yes, my lady.
Camara: There was a room called the Monitoring and Examination Room at the NIA?
Jeng: My lady, there was a Monitoring and Emergency Room otherwise called the Call Center.
Camara: Under which unit was the Call Center?
Jeng: It was under the Operations Unit.
Camara: Since it was under your directorate that was why you were constantly briefed as to what was going on with the UDP protesters.
Jeng: It was not under my directorate rather I myself was under the directorate.
Camara: Are you telling this court as of the 14th April 2016 you were not the director of Operations at the NIA?
Jeng: Yes, my lady. I was not the director of operations.
Camara: Who was the Director of Operations as of the 14th April 2016 at the National Intelligence Agency?
Jeng: The Deputy Director General Louis R. Gomez.
Camara: I am putting it to you that you were actually the Director of Operations as of the 14th April 2016.
Jeng: I vehemently refute that, my lady.
Camara: When did you get to be the director of operations at the NIA?
Jeng: I was never director of operations at the NIA.
Camara: So, as the second in command, you were briefed as to what was happening concerning the UDP detainees?
Jeng: No, my lady. I was not constantly briefed.
Camara: You were intermittently briefed if not constantly?
Jeng: My lady, I was only intermittently informed about the three women who were being treated at the NIA after their admission.
Jeng was given Exhibits P1, P2 and P3.
Camara: What exactly is Exhibit P2?
Jeng: This is an affidavit in opposition.
Camara: In what course?
Jeng: In the matter of Ebrima Solo Sandeng and in the matter of an application for the writ of habeas corpus.
Jeng was asked to read paragraph 2 of Exhibit P2 where it was written that it was he was the Director of Operations at the NIA. He was also given Exhibit 3 (further affidavit in opposition) which where it was written the same.
Camara: Mr Jeng did you tell that court in both Exhibits P2 and P3 that you were the Director of Operations at NIA as of that time?
Jeng: Yes, my lady.
Camara: Since you did, why did you tell this court that you were never the Director of Operations at the NIA?
Jeng: That is the fact, my lady. I was never the Director of Operations at the NIA.
Camara: You said in Exhibits P2 and P3 that you made the statements in accordance with the Oaths Act and you deliberately intended to mislead the court?
Jeng: I completely disagree because these were the same documents I referred to in my evidence in-chief that I was coerce to sign starting with the Justice Minister who told me to cooperate, Senior Counsel Binga D. who told me it was an Executive Order and my late Deputy Director General who told me to comply even after I outlined the errors in the documents.
Camara: Mr Jeng did you ever write anywhere during the course of the investigation that you made these affidavits under duress?
Jeng: I cannot recall.
Camara: Did you state anywhere in Exhibit P2 that you were coerced to make Exhibit 2?
Jeng: No, my lady. I couldn’t have put it there because these documents were prepared well before my visit to the Attorney General’s Chambers and I was coerce to sign them.
Counsel Camara asked Jeng to read paragraph 14 of Exhibit P2 where it was stated that Solo Sandeng lost his life in the process of arrest and detention.
Jeng: I accept signing it. I have nothing to do with the contents.
Camara asked Jeng to read paragraph 15 of Exhibit P2 where it was stated the Government had set up an inquiry into Sandeng’s demise.
Camara: Is that true, Mr Jeng?
Jeng: “I don’t know, my lady.”
Camara asked Jeng to read paragraph 6 of Exhibit P3 where it was stated the dead certificate indicating the death of Solo Sandeng.
Camara: Who signed the dead certificate?
Jeng: Lamin Sanyang.
Camara: Is there any medic at the NIA called Lamin Sanyang?
Jeng: Yes, my lady. We have Lamin Lang Sanyang.
Camara: Do you know if Lamin Lang Sanyang as a pathologiest?
Jeng: No, my lady. I don’t know.
Camara: And yet you instructed him to issue a dead certificate?
Jeng: No, my lady. I didn’t instruct him to procure any dead certificate.
Camara: Do you know who did?
Jeng: Yes, my lady.
Camara: And who did?
Jeng: The late Deputy Director General Louis R. Gomez.
Jeng was asked to read paragraph 7 of Exhibit P3 which stated that the primary cause of Solo Sandeng’s dead was “shock”.
Camara: Is that true?
Jeng: I don’t know, my lady because I am not a medical practitioner.
Camara: Why did you depose to these factual averments when you knew it is not true?
Jeng: My lady, these documents were prepared by the Ministry of Justice. Senior State Counsel Binga D. told me it was an Executive Order after I was referred to him by the Justice Minister who told me to comply and cooperate with him.
Camara: You told this court that you insisted to take the documents to the NIA?
Jeng: My lady, what I said was after I saw the document and read it at Bing D’s Officer and see the irregularities there, I insisted on going with the documents to the NIA to show them to my senior.
Camara: You took it to the NIA to read it.
Jeng: I read it at Binga D’s Office and took it to the NIA to show it to my senior.
Camara: You signed Exhibits P2 and P3 after consultation with your senior.
Jeng: Yes, my lady. When I got to the Deputy Director General’s Office and he told me and I quote“Mama just called me – it is an Executive Order – go ahead and sign.” My lady, regrettably, I did.
Camara: Mr Jeng, did you ever have an inclination at that time to tell the court the truth?
Jeng: Yes, my lady because I told Senior Counsel Binga D. that I will not go to court, [hold and] swear to the Koran and tell lies and he told I will not appear in court.
Camara: Is Exhibits P2 and P3 on Solo Sandeng’s dead or burial?
Jeng: Exhibits P2 and P3 are on the writ of Habeas Corpus which I understand to mean to produce or make someone available.
Camara: Do you mention anything in Exhibits P2 and P3 on the burial f Solo Sandeng?
Jeng: I didn’t mention anything.
Camara: Did you mention anything in Exhibits P2 and P3 on the cause of the dead of Solo Sandeng?
Jeng: My lady, I didn’t mention anything in the two documents about anything. I only signed when I was coerce to sign.
Camara: Did you not say that you are the deponent in both Exhibits P2 and P3?
Jeng: No, my lady. I never say anything.
Camara: Did you not say in Exhibits p2 and P3 that you were the deponent?
Jeng: I never say anything in the documents. I only signed when I was coerce
The case was adjourned to Wednesday, 20th January 2021 at 1 pm for the continuation of the cross-examination.