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Monday, May 23, 2022

Banta Keita’s lawyer says frozen asset belongs to wife

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By Aisha Tamba

Lawyer Sheriff Tambadou, representing Banta Keita, the man suspected of importing tons of cocaine into the country last year, has argued that a house in Fajara which is among Keita’s assets frozen by the state, actually belongs to his wife Dulce Monteiro.

Banta Keita, still at large, is charged with nine counts ranging from money laundering to drug trafficking alongside his business counterpart Sheriff Njie, who is charged with drug trafficking.

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Testifying before the court, a DLEAG officer Jatibou Sambou, said as part of the investigation panel on the alleged drug traffickers, he was assigned to take the cautionary statement of Sheriff Njie who was arrested as he tried to clear the cocaine at the seaport.

Sambou told the court that 118 bags of suspected drug substances were recovered at the port and a primary test was done on them at the DLEAG Scientific Unit, which confirmed them to be cocaine. 

He said during the investigations, Sheriff Njie confessed that Banta asked him to join a sugar importing business and that is how the containers came in his name.

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“Sheriff called Banta at the port when we were counting the bags and told him about the events and the phone was on speaker. Banta responded to him that he will come to the port but a few hours later when he called him back, Banta did not respond,” the DLEAG officer told the court.

 The witness added that during the course of their investigations, they went to one of the properties of Banta located in Fajara. “I was part of the team who went to search the house where his wife told us that Banta had traveled and some documents including Banta’s passport were recovered to help the investigations,” the witness said.

During cross-examination, defense counsel Sheriff Tambadou told the witness that the house in Fajara is owned by Banta’s wife Dulce Monteiro, but the witness responded that the whiteman who sold it to Banta Keita was himself interrogated by the agency. 

Tambadou further asked the witness the whereabouts of a suitcase containing men’s clothes that the anti-drug agency recovered from Banta’s house.  In response, the witness confirmed that the suitcase was recovered but he was not part of the team that recovered the suitcase containing men’s clothes.  

 The witness, a highly experienced DLEAG officer, confirmed that he took the cautionary statement of Sheriff Njie which state counsel L Jarjue tendered as evidence.

The matter was adjourned to 5th April.

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