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City of Banjul
Friday, September 18, 2020

GRA’S VERO RE-ARRESTED, DETAINED AT NIA

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When the case resumed yesterday for hearing, the lawyer, Hawa Sisay-Sabally, said Ms Carayol was arrested at the GRA premises. “The accused was re-arrested yesterday morning. She is presently at the National Intelligence Agency. She is not under suspension by her employer nor was she interdicted. She reported to work yesterday and while at the premises, she was arrested and taken away. I’m aware that there is no fresh case brought against her by the state. She complied with the bail granted by the court,” she said, adding that the accused is entitled to protection as a civil servant under the constitution of the country.

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Ms Carayol was not present in court and her lawyer urged the matter to be stood down for the prosecutor, ASP Musa Camara, to communicate to the NIA for her to be brought to court. “You have the powers to direct the NIA and the police who are in custody of Veronic to produce her in court this morning. If Veronic is not produced in court, the integrity and independence of this court will be undermined. She is ready to face trial. Even if there is investigation for a particular case, that should not stop her from coming to court,” she said.

The prosecution said it did not oppose for the matter to be stood down but said: “The counsel has not stated clearly why the accused was re-arrested. It might be [that] investigations have started on a different issue from what is before the court…”

The magistrate then stood down the matter. When the case resumed an hour later, Ms Caroyal was escorted to court by security officers. The court then heard the testimony of the prosecution first witness, Kebba Secka, a security agent. According to Mr Secka, a panel of investigators was constituted on September 9 after they received a directive from ‘authorities’. He said cautionary statements were obtained from the accused and witnesses. 

“During the investigations, we discovered that the accused was ferrying people to her sister’s store using a government vehicle. We also discovered that she has written a memo of outstanding balance of payment [of] which she cannot provide us [details]. We also discovered in her statement that she accepted unsolicited gifts,” Mr Secka said. He said a report was compiled at the end of the investigations. The report was tendered as exhibit.

Under cross-examination by Lawyer Sisay-Sabally, Mr Secka said he did not know what unsolicited gift means. “I’m putting it to you that you chose to affirm because you don’t believe what is contained in this report,” the lawyer quizzed, but the witness replied, ‘”No”. “Did you also expect the accused while in detention to provide the memo?” she further asked and the witness replied, “Yes”.

Still under cross-examination, Mr Secka said he did not know if the memo was copied to some GRA senior officials. When asked why the panel was interested in the diapers, Mr Secka replied: “It was within the directives we received.” He confirmed that the vehicle was given to the accused for her to use.

The lawyer asked Mr Secka: “As a security agent, [don’t] you will see government vehicles carrying rams which are not government rams?” he said no.  He also said he did not know when asked if there is a policy about when an official vehicle should not be used. The lawyer at that juncture asked for an adjournment. She applied that the prosecution produce the statements of the witnesses. She said she wanted the case to be sped up as her client is under detention. The trial will resume today.

Veronic Carayol was arraigned last week on four counts of abuse of office, false information, unlawful publication and corrupt practices after being detained for at least 72 hours according to her lawyer. She pleaded not guilty to three counts but did not enter a plea on the unlawful publication charge. The charge has been referred to the Supreme Court for interpretation.

Mrs Carayol is accused of informing the International Monetary Fund visiting delegation without authority that the manager of the ‘mobile brigade’ was not taking directives from her which was purely an administrative matter. The police prosecutors also alleged that the accused “uttered by own words   that she accepted unsolicited money as gifts or consideration as an inducement or reward for doing or for bearing to do or have been done or forborne to do this act in relation to her ‘principal affairs to show favours.” [sic]

She is further accused of allowing the official vehicle of GRA to be used for carrying her sister’s employees and merchandise of baby diapers while on official mission. She is also accused of giving false information to the investigators that there is a document of outstanding balance businessmen should pay, which she circulated and it was retrieved by some GRA top official, information she knew to be false.

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