The trial of the former Permanent Secretary at the Department of State for Foreign Affairs, Willy Joof, continued on Thursday before Magistrate Kayoidy of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
In his testimony, Prosecution Witness (PW)1, Moses Benjamin Jallow, informed the court that when the accused left the offices, he received a trunk of letters from UNESCO addressed to the accused, Mr. Joof, at the permanent delegation which was housed at the business premises of Mr. Coencas. He said when he received the trunk of letters he called the attention of the financial attachee after realising that a bank account was opened in the name of The Gambia government. He said he and the financial attaché were both signatories to all official bank accounts in France in the name of The Gambia, the accused being the alternative signatory to same. PW1 adduced that he was surprised that such bank accounts existed without his knowledge. He said all bank accounts of the government are opened with his signature and that of the financial attaché.
Mr. Jallow further disclosed that among the trunk of letters they received, one contained a statement that a Peugeot 607 vehicle was purchased in the name of the accused. He added that in his capacity as Officer-in-Charge of the mission, he contacted the bank where the said account was opened and found evidence that a bank account was once opened and closed by the accused. He said the account was opened in the name of Gambian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO in Paris, noting that the Director of the bank told him that there were two payments made to the account- two cheques for 5000 and 10,000 euros. He stated that five withdrawals were made from that account, adding that it was overdrawn and subsequently closed. He disclosed that on contacting the garage from where the vehicle was purchase, it was confirmed to him that the vehicle was then in the name of Mechel Coencas but that initially it was in the name of the accused, adding that he himself had never seen the car. He testified that the office of the Gambian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO was first housed in the same premises as the Gambia Embassy but was later moved by the accused to the business premises of Mr. Coencas. He further disclosed that the President of the appointing state is the one responsible for appointment of Permanent Delegation to UNESCO.
Still testifying PW1 revealed that he did not know who appointed Mr. Meachel Coencas as part of the Gambian Permanent Delegation to UNESCO but that at a certain time the accused informed them that he had appointed Mr. Coencas as the Deputy in the Gambia Permanent Delegation to UNESCO. He said he had worked with three ambassadors in France including the accused, but that it was only during the accused’s tenure that they had a deputy in the Permanent Delegation. He said there is no payment for the appointment of honorary consul.
It could be recalled that the accused, Willy Joof, is standing trial on eight counts of official corruption, obtaining goods by false pretence, conspiracy to commit felony and abuse of office.
Hearing continues today.