27 C
City of Banjul
Wednesday, September 23, 2020

SABALLY TRIAL BEGINS IN EARNEST

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Omar Bah, a machine operator at the Central Bank, said the former secretary general and presidential affairs minister said the keys of the cars were given to a soldier upon Sabally’s directive.

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Sabally, 40, is on trial on eight charges of two economic crimes, three counts of abuse of office, two counts of neglect of official duty and one count of giving false information. He is accused of giving false information to President Jammeh that one Alasan Ndoye had given him two vehicles with intent to annoy and cause financial loss to Mr Ndoye, information he knew was false. He is also accused of causing economic losses to Social Security & Housing Finance Corporation in the amount of D402, 500 by unduly influencing the corporation to sponsor a private programme. Prosecutors further accused Mr Sabally of causing economic loss to the government of The Gambia in the amount of D38, 424 being money received as per diem allowance for a trip to South Africa to attend the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma, which he neglected to attend. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Testifying in a crowded courtroom, Mr Bah said: “I was introduced to Mr Ndoye by my in-law when Mr Ndoye brought two cars from Senegal that he wanted to sell to the president. I then called Sabally and told him about it and he told me he will make arrangements for the cars to be taken to his compound in Kerr Serign. On the following day, I went with my in-law and Mr Ndoye to Sabally’s residence. After inspecting the cars, Sabally told us that he will make arrangement for the cars to be taken to State House.”

According to Mr Bah, they went to the State House the following day but they were unable to see President Jammeh. He said they took the cars back on the following day but the president was at the July 22 Square for a function.  “The following day, we brought the cars back but we were directed by Mr Sabally to park the cars inside the State House. Mr Ndoye handed the key to a soldier on the directives of Mr Sabally. Mr Ndoye then went into Sabally’s office before we left,” Bah said.

He said after a couple of weeks, he went to Sabally’s office to hand over the proposal for the sale of the cars. “But Sabally told me that there were a lot of papers on his desk and that I should keep the proposal. After some time, he called me on the phone at night and said he thought the cars were for donation. He spoke angrily over the phone and said he will return the cars back to Mr Ndoye,” Bah said.

However, Mr Bah said he did not know whether the cars were given back to Mr Ndoye. He said Mr Ndoye’s reactions were his cars were for sale and not for donation.

At that point, the lawyer for Sabally applied for the judge to watch the ‘demeanour’ of the witness. To which the chief prosecutor reacted: “We have not seen anything with the demeanour of this witness. He is testifying against his former boss and friend,” he said.

When Mr Bah was asked if he has anything he could tell the court on this matter, he said: “I felt sad to be here. He was my former boss.”

However, the judge said he did not hear Mr Bah say that when the lawyer repeated the statement to him under cross-examination. The chief prosecutor also insisted that it was not uttered by Mr Bah.

Still under cross-examination, Mr Bah admitted making a statement at the NIA but said he could not remember how many statements he made. The case resumes today for continuation of cross-examination.

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