By Fatou Sowe
Lawyer Antouman Gaye the lead prosecutor in the Solo Sandeng murder trial against the nine former officials of the national intelligence agency (NIA) has said to the high court in Banjul, presided over by Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara that defense lawyer C E Mene was abusing his advocacy license to cross examine the third (PW3) Commissioner Abdoulie Sanneh.
He made this statement while raising an objection to a question which he considered irrelevant to the facts of the case before the court during lawyer Mene’s cross examination of the said witness.
Prosecutor Gaye in his submission to support his objection further stated that defense counsel Mene was overheating on issues that are not relevant to the case before the court. He said he does not subscribe to the saying that the sky is the limit in cross examination because relevance is the bench mark.
In his response to the objection, Lawyer Mene submitted that cross examination is meant to test the veracity of the witness and the objection of the prosecution is misconceived and only meant to shutdown the defense.
He went on to state that the defence is entitled to challenge the evidence of the prosecution brought in during PW3’s testimony in chief so the prosecution cannot complain about that because they presented the evidence in court.
“I will continue to punch holes into PW3’s evidence and I cannot be shutdown because that will amount to an unfair trial” he submitted.
Prosecutor Gaye in reply stated that Lawyer Mene’s allegation that the prosecution is in an attempt to shutdown the defense is wrong because it is the court that controls the proceedings of the case and not the prosecution. He also emphasized that section 192 (2) of the Evidence Act provides that cross examination must be relevant to the facts before the court.
In her ruling the presiding judge sustained the objection and said further that the line of questioning by Mene is absurd and that she was in disagreement with Mene’s submission that he can cross examine the witness on every piece of evidence because some issues are for the address stage of the case.
She said that the cross examination has gone way beyond the time the court expected it. Consequently, she directed Lawyer Mene to limit himself to the facts in issue before the court, after which the cross examination continued.
Commissioner Abdoulie Sanneh while continuing his testimony under cross examination stated that it is not correct that the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) officers are specialized in handling riot and chaotic situations because they (PIU) are like every other police officer as they carryout functions like any police officer.
According to him, majority of those arrested at Westfield on April 14, 2015 were arrested by the PIU officers, adding that he does not know who led the PIU team to Westfield nor does he know the instructions they were given because they are not under his command.
PW3 denied knowledge of the fact that the PIU officers were in their riot gears while on operation at Westfield saying that he does not know how the PIU operates.
The case was adjourned for a continuation of the cross examination by Lawyer Mene.