Judicial Staff not Competent to Transcribe Document’.
Defence Counsel Mene on 9 April, 2019, objected to the tendering of a video recording through a judicial staff in the case involving Yankub Badjie and other former NIA officers before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the High Court in Banjul, stating that the staff was not competent to transcribe the document from Mandinka, Wollof and English. This followed an application made by Lawyer Combeh Gaye to tender the document.
Abibatou Jallow, the 35th prosecution witness, who is also a judicial staff, testified that she lives at Kotu East Layout, noting that she is a civil servant and employed by the judiciary. She adduced that on or about December, 2017, the judicial secretary, Lamin Sanneh, received a letter and a hard drive requesting a transcriber to transcribe the contents of the hard drive.
She stated that she received them from the Ministry of Justice, adding that she was later instructed by the judicial secretary to transcribe the hard drive. She disclosed that the first audio was the police interview of the NIA personnel. She said that the second was the video of the NIA recording of Solo Sandeng and others.
She testified that she inserted the hard drive which has an express scribe and a software form, stating that she played the video and listened to the content. She noted that she started the transcription of the video around October, 2018, adding that the language on the audio was in Mandinka, Wollof and English. She said she understands all the three languages.
She told the court that the content of the video was also in Mandinka, Wollof and English, narrating that during her transcription, she listened to the audio and typed what she heard. She adduced further that after completing the transcription, she submitted it to the judicial secretary who handed it to the judiciary. She said that she signed the document after completion of the transcription.
She was asked by Lawyer Combeh Gaye whether she would be able to recognize the audio and video if she saw them, and she answered in the positive. She was then given the documents and she confirmed that she was the one who prepared and signed them. She disclosed that they were in original. She then identified the video transcription and Lawyer Combeh Gaye applied to tender it.
Defense Counsel Mene rose and said that he was objecting to the tendering of the document. He said that the evidence of the witness was clear, noting that she said that all hard drive look the same and could not confirm the hard drive shown to her. He argued that what was sought to be tendered was headed ‘The High Court of The Gambia’.
He further stated that according to the document, it was a transcript of trial before the judge, adding that this was what the document said. He submitted that on the face of the document, it was not what was purported to be. He noted that they should understand what the transcript was. He argued that the witness described the transcript as printed, handwritten or typed copy of testimony given orally.
He went on to say that the difference between the oral testimony and transcript was that one was oral and the other written, adding that the content was the same. He told the court that the witness said that the content of the hard drive which she listened to and could not identify was in Mandinka, Wollof and English.
Counsel Mene argued that additionally, the hard drive which was identified by the police was heard in the court. He stated that the document purported to be tendered was entirely in English. “At best, an authenticated translation of what the transcript to be was in Mandinka, Wollof and a portion in English,” he argued.
He added that the document which was translated was not before the court, noting that it could not be admitted.