Court relocates hearing to cocaine container store

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By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)

Justice Zainab Ngui Mboob of the Bakau High Court yesterday visited the DLEAG facility in Bijilo housing 118 bags of suspected cocaine seized in a container at the Banjul port a little ever a year ago allegedly own by one Banta Keita who is on the run.

The visit formed part of the continuation of court’s sitting on the matter, this time at the site, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency of The Gambia’s facility in Bijilo.

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On arrival at the site Senior State Counsel announced his representation for the State while Lawyer Sheriff Marie Tambadou appeared for Banta Keita (and Lawyer Badou S.M. Conteh appeared for Sheriff Njie, who was present,

The matter proceeded with the evidence of Lamin Gassama, Director of Intelligence at DLEAG whose testimony was interposed to allow for the court’s visit to the site.

Gassama testified that the 118 bags of the suspected cocaine are stored in a container they were found in adding that a 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 DLEAG boss.

“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 replied.

“Did the three other 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, the witness said the iron bar did not come with the container, rather it was put there for extra security of the drugs.

The witness said each of the padlocks 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 grinding. The alleged cocaine bags were counted and the count confirmed the total to be 118 bags.

According to 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 where the alleged vehicles were stationed on 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 car 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 (drugs, containers, vehicles, and boat) to be kept in the custody of the court so that the court can deal with anyone who tampers with the evidence.

Counsel L. Jarju also made another application relying on section 52 Anti-Laundering law that the Range Rover and gold colour 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 is going down.

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