The much-anticipated duel between two legal luminaries, which some misguided folks dubbed El Classico, went ahead as scheduled. One is an alleged murderer and the other is an international lawyer who garnered experience over the years at the biggest stage of all, the ICC.
On day one, after the usual protocols, Edward Singhateh started his charm offensive by playing to the gallery and viewers online. As soon as he strung together a sentence in Mandinka, his support base tripled in a flash.
His fans, at some point, believed their star player was winning the match. This could be due to their poor comprehension of the English language coupled with a lack of knowledge of proceedings. If you follow TRRC as I do, the Lead Counsel, in particular, you will know that he employs three-stage techniques.
The first phase, he will let the witness feel at ease and have their way for a while. Phase two is when he ups the ante, grinds through the witness statement and exposes their lies and the final phase is when he lowers the volume and winds down proceedings.
It was after stage one when Edu’s fanboys and girls were prematurely jubilating. At the end of the day, they went home satisfied claiming a draw; some among them believed their star player won the day.
Day Two started off when Lead Counsel Faal gave Edu his statement back to sign which oddly enough has a different account of an event in the statement he submitted electronically. Edu prayed to the Commission not to hold it against him as he did not intend to mislead them. These early exchanges set the tone for the rest of the day’s proceedings. From this point on, Essa’s prosecutorial experience began to show as he coaxed him into an alleyway leading to a cul-de-sac, where he unsuccessfully tried to wiggle out. There he was battered mercilessly to a point he self-incriminated himself by admitting guilt to a charge of murder.
He also accepted criminal responsibility of the murder of at least 11 members of The Gambia National Army. On a few occasions, he turned to the Deputy Chair with a look of “help me out”. At the end of the day, his cheerleaders were in tears and mental anguish. Those who partly regain their sanity retired to bed early with sore heads, whilst the rest had a meltdown all night on social media. They said Essa did not give their star player a chance to tell his story but forgot that Edu did not give Koro Ceesay a chance to live (allegedly).
People whose highest academic certification is WASSCE (or its equivalent) and those whose biggest achievement in life is immigrating to Europe and North America apparently know Essa’s job more than him. Funny, isn’t it?
There is a reason why Essa is the Lead Counsel of the TRRC and you are slaving in plantations abroad, doing sub-human jobs in sub-zero temperatures.
Day three was never on the cards but was forced upon the Commission due to Edu’s cunning ways. He surprisingly started off cooperating and taking some responsibilities. When it got to Ousman Koro Ceesay’s death, he denied any involvement even though many witnesses, including his guard/orderly at the time, placed him at the crime scene. This left his fanbase disappointed because they thought he will own up and apologize.
Comparing Edu and Sanna
This comparison, coming from the same misguided folks, was misplaced. Sanna was a perpetrator and a victim who, by Edu’s own admission, was unjustly imprisoned. Let us be honest, Sanna caught us all by surprise. None of us knew that he was in town, let alone facing the TRRC. And there is a saying in Wollof “Loula Beta mounla”. And to his credit he owned up to his misdeeds and apologized unreservedly.