By Halimatou Ceesay
Former NIA DG Yankuba Badjie’s Lawyer C.E Mene roars to the court yesterday before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara that he has the right to discredit witness.
Mene was responding to the lead prosecutor Senior Counsel Gaye’s remark that there should be a limit to cross examination and that Counsel Mene should hit the nail on the head as regards to matter before the court rather going about asking the witness what he has for breakfast or dinner.
The issue arises when defence counsel Mene asked the witness Sonko what kind of maintenance he was doing at his office.
Counsel Gaye told the court that the issue before there is a limit to cross examination. He said let the defence get to the matter before the court and asked questions that are relevant to the case or that touches on the charge before the court and not whether the witness have breakfast or dinner. Counsel Gaye said Counsel Mene should touch on the issue that brought all of them before the court.
In response Counsel Mene said most of the witnesses that had testified before the court has given evidence on timelines and time frames and as well what happened between these timelines and time frames.
“This witness in his evidence-in-chief has also given timelines. We are determined to cross examine him to show that his evidence within the circumstances of this case cannot be true. I have the right to discredit the witness and prove to my lady that the circumstance that happened and all the evidence adduced to by the witness cannot be true,” he said.
Mene said that under cross examination it is not only relevance that is looked into. He said in addition to relevance they are allowed to test the accuracy and veracity of the evidence. “We are within our rights,” he said.
Meanwhile the two sides (Prosecution and Defence) also clashed over the issue of interpretation with regards to the way the interpreter interprets the evidence of the witness in Mandinka.
The issue arises at the beginning of the case when Counsel Mene who was not present at the Tuesday Sittings asked the witness “How did he confer the rank on you” and when the witness answer in Mandinka, L.S Camara stood up and interjected to clarify the interpretation made by the interpreter in English.
Counsel Mene said the interjection by L.S Camara shows that the interpreter does not understand Mandinka. He said his client (the accused persons) complained to him that the interpreter is not interpreting what the witness said correctly. He then told the court he would like to be on record.
Counsel Gaye then stood up and said his learned friend Mene said that he is not complaining so what is the point. He said his learned friends I. Jallow for the 3rd accused and Lamin Fatty for the 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th accused was also seated here during the last sittings and understand Mandinka very well but they do not complain. He added that if the 1st accused has a genuine complaint against the interpreter let them bring it forward to the court and then the court will decide what to do.
Counsel for the 3rd accused I. Jallow told the court that he was not present in court when the witness was giving evidence and his client equally complained to him that the interpretation was not good adding that the issue of interpretation is very fundamental and urged the court to look into it.
The trial judge said they don’t have perfect interpreters that will interpret without making mistakes. He said the interpreter in question is one of the best interpreters. He said when he is not correct it is normal for someone to interject. Adding that they have to at least give him chance and that it is better they move on with the case. “I am not saying that they should give the interpreter a chance at the detriment of the case”
However in the middle of the case conflict began between Counsel Mene and L.S Camara with regards to the same issue and the witness was then asked if he can speak in English and he said he prefer Mandinka. Then the interpreter was changed and another interpreter took over from him.
Mene said the prosecution cannot do the work of the prosecution and that of the defence at the same time. He said the prosecution cannot tell the defence how to do their work and cannot know the defence case more than the defence.