By Aisha Tamba
Justice Basirou Mahoney, presiding over the treason trial involving five people accused of plotting to overthrow the government, yesterday overruled the prosecution’s application to admit the cautionary statement of the fifth accused person, SI Fabakary Jawara.
Justice Mahoney rejected the application after Jawara’s counsel Lamin Camara objected to the admission of his client’s statement arguing he was beaten before his statements were obtained, and in the absence of an independent witness.
In his ruling, Justice Mahoney stated that for the statement of Fabakary Jawara to be admitted,the court has to comply with the Evidence Act.
He said according to the Evidence Act, cautionary and voluntary statements shall not be admitted unless the confession is voluntarily and made in writing signed and thumb printed in the presence of an independent witness who is not in the security forces. “The provision on this evidence act leaves no room for uncertainty. These are pre-conditions in obtaining professional statements, particularly in cautionary and voluntary statements,” the judge said.
He further revealed that Section 31 of the Act categorically stated that the confession must be made in the presence of an independent witness in the process of signing the paper whether or not the accused wrote the statement by himself.
“Where the voluntary nature of the statement has been challenged, it normally calls for the suspension of the trial and calls for a mini-trial to determine the originality of the statement. This statement was reportedly taken in the absence of an independent witness as stated by PW5; there is no need for a mini-trial. The statements are therefore rejected,” he ruled.
Corporal Sanna Fadera (alleged ring leader), Sergeant Gibril Darboe, Corporal Ebrima Sano, Corporal Omar Njie, and Sub-inspector Fabakary Jawara are facing two counts of treason, concealment of treason and incitement of mutiny.
The trial continues today.