By Halimatou Ceesay
The 11th prosecution witness in the ongoing murder trial of Solo Sandeng that allegedly involved nine NIA officials has testified before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of Banjul High court.
In his testimony Mr. Samba Sowe the Deputy Director for internal security at the State Intelligence Service (SIS) formerly NIA said he started working at the NIA in January 1994 when it was then called National Security Services (NSS).
According to Sowe on the 14th April, 2016 at about 17:00 hours whilst on duty at the then NIA now SIS, he was called by his boss Lamin Fatty in his office who was the then Director of investigation, to prepare a questionnaire.
“I asked him how I can prepare a questionnaire when I am not brief. During our conversation Mr. Gomez the then Deputy Director of NIA and Sheikh Omar Jeng, the then Director of Operation entered the office”.
Sowe further added that Mr. Gomez asked him (the witness) what the information was about and he told him.
“That was the time Mr. Gomez informed me that there were UDP protesters at Westfield. Sheikh Omar Jeng, the Director of Operation, said he was going to prepare the questionnaire himself.”
Sowe continued that he was asked by his boss Lamin Fatty to prepare a team to conduct the interview. “The team include, Lamin Ceesay, Kebba Secka, Bora Njie, and Pa Serign Mboob, all staff of the investigation Unit of the NIA”.
“I prepared the team and at about 20:00hours the team started interviewing the suspects (Subjects) based on the questionnaire prepared by Sheikh Omar Jeng,” he said.
When asked by Lawyer Antuman Gaye, the lead prosecutor whether they were the only people in the conference room. The witness responded that there was Babou Njie, and Assan Badjie who was conducting a video coverage of the subjects.
Sowe disclosed that the SIS Deputy Director of Internal Security said during the interview, his role was to supervise and that Kebba Secka was the one asking questions and Lamin Ceesay was also there, Pa Serign Mboob and Bora Njie were members.
When asked whether he can recall the names of those interviewed. The witness responded positively, adding that he can only remember Lamin Marong, Nogoi Njie, Fatoumatta Jawara, Solo Sandeng.
“The subjects were brought in and out of the hall by Haruna Suso, he was the OC Special operation and the team included Baboucarr Sallah, Tamba Masireh and others that I cannot remember,” said the witness.
Still testifying, Sowe disclosed that Assan Badjie was doing the video coverage but will sometimes paused when the subjects are brought in and out. However about 30 people were interviewed and the interview was completed at about 1am.
“I observed that Solo Sandeng, Fatoumatta Jawara and Nojoi Njie were in physical pain because they had to be supported when they were walking and sitting down,” he added.
When asked by Lawyer Gaye who supported the above mentioned people. The witness responded that it was Haruna Suso, Baboucarr Sallah Tamba Masireh and others.
”When Solo Sandeng was being interviewed our then Director General Yankuba Badjie stood at the door to observe how the interview was going,” said the witness.
Sowe further disclosed that Sheikh Omar Jeng was the Director of Operation responsible for all operation matters. When asked whether operation is different from special operation unit, he responded positively.
“Special operation was created by the Director General Yankuba Badjie and they were answerable to the directorate and their role includes arresting,” said the witness.
When asked about the mandate of the operation unit. The witness explains that one of their mandates is to dispatch people to go and cover when the president is travelling.
When asked whether he can recall who took Solo Sandeng out of the interview hall. The witness responded “As I said earlier, Baboucarr Sallah, Haruna Suso, Tamba Masireh and others but I cannot remember the rest,” he emphasized.
When asked whether he knew where Solo Sandeng was taken, the witness responded that he was taken to the detention center of the NIA headquarters and all the other suspects were taken back to the detention center.
At this point the witness was asked whether he can identify the accused persons in court namely Yankuba Badjie, Sheikh Omar Jeng, Mr. Gomez(The person the witness referred to as the Deputy Director), Haruna Suso and Tamba Masireh. The witness responded positively, and pointed to them one after the other.
At this point the case was adjourned till 26th February, 2018 at 1pm for continuation.