NIA operative testifies in radio journalist’s trial

Alagie CeesayThe trial of a 25-year old radio journalist who was charged with sedition and publication of false news began yesterday at the high court in Banjul before Justice Mohammed Dan Azumi Balarabe with the testimony of prosecution witness who identified himself an agent of the National Intelligence Agency.

Mr Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay was alleged to have distributed President Jammeh’s picture with a gun pointed at him to two protocol officers attached to the office of the president.

Mr Foday M Bojang an intelligence officer at the NIA investigative unit told the high court sitting today that he recognised the accused person at their office when he was brought before him to obtain his cautionary and voluntary statements in connection with the text messages he sent to the two protocol officers attached to the office of the president.

Mr Bojang explained to the court the roles he played in connection with the case upon receiving directives from his “boss” when the accused was brought in their office for questioning.

“I was assigned by my … boss, Lamin Ceesay to obtain voluntary and cautionary statements of the accused which I did in the presence of an independent witness,” he told the judge.

“After reading the cautionary statement to the accused, the accused wrote his own statement and was asked to read it again before he could sign it as well as the independence witness.

After recording the voluntary statement, I wrote the particulars and the charges which I read to him but he denied the allegation saying that he did not cause any harm to anyone before he finally signed the voluntary statement and the independence witness as well.”

The director of public prosecution, SH Barkun, then asked the witness whether he could recognise the said statements he recorded from the accused to which he replied “yes”.

The DPP then applied to tender the voluntary and cautionary statements as exhibits but later he withdrew the tendering of the voluntary statement after the defence protested on the ground that the said statement was not the original one and should not be admitted by the court.

Mr Ceesay is the managing director of Sinchu Alagie-based community radio, Taranga FM.

He was dragged to court on August 4 on a charge of seditious intention for allegedly distributing pictures of President Yahya Jammeh showing a gun pointed at him.

Mr Ceesay however denied any wrongdoing but was denied bail by the lower court in Banjul.

Dissatisfied with the lower court verdict, his lawyer filed a motion at the high court seeking for his release on bail which was also dismissed by the superior court.

The state chief prosecutor, Saleh Hadi Barkun had earlier urged the court not to grant bail to Alagie arguing that the offences he is alleged to have committed are very serious and if found guilty he may be sentenced to life imprisonment.

But counsel for the accused, lawyer Combeh Gaye Coker yesterday reminded the court again that she has a pending application for bail before the court which is seeking for the release of the accused on bail.

She submitted that she was served with affidavit in opposition this morning by the DPP even though she had earlier served the DPP since Monday and was ready to move her motion.

The presiding judge however considered her submission and asked for the parties to move their motions on September 7 when the case resumes.

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