Human Rights

Parties In Coup Trial Clash Over Section 92 Of Evidence Act

The prosecution and defence in the alleged coup plot trial today clashed over section 92 of the Gambia’s Evidence Act.

Following cross-examination by defence counsel L.S. Camara, prosecutor A.M. Yusuf arose to re-examine the witness. He said: “Mr Jatta in your general testimony, you said that you recorded your conversation with the first accused.”

The witness responded in the positive, saying he could recall telling the court he did so about 5 times.

“And what are those conversations about,” Counsel Yusuf asked.

However, defence Counsel Camara objected at this particular point. Camara told the court that re-examination’s scope is to clear doubts and ambiguities that arose during cross-examination. He further opined that there was nothing in such circumstances that required a re-examination, adding the question needed to be asked during the witness’s evidence in chief.

Counsel Camara referred the court to subsection 3 of section 192 of the Evidence Act, which states: “The re-examination shall be directed to the explanation of matters referred to in cross-examination, and if any matter is, by permission of the court, introduced in the re-examination, the other party may further cross-examine on that.”

“My lord we object to the question in the form of the re-examination,” Counsel Camara submitted, adding that they also objected to the introduction of new matters by the prosecution.

In his counter, prosecutor A.M. Yusuf opined that the objection was misconceived, pointing out that subsection 3 of section 192 does not in any way disqualify or bar such a question from being asked. “My lord, it is in the interest of justice to allow the question, so that the court will have the opportunity to have an informed knowledge of the conversation,” he said.

He further alluded that the issue of the conversation between the witness and the first accused person “is scattered all across the records”, adding that if the issue of conversation was not raised, the court would be vulnerable to speculation on what the conversation was about.

He therefore urged the court to allow the prosecution to ask the question, saying that would be in the spirit of justice and fair play as to what was before the court.

The matter was suspended till tomorrow at 1pm, when a ruling over the argument of the parties would be delivered by Justice Mahoney for continuation of proceedings.

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