By Yankuba Jallow/Nelson Manneh

Lance Corporal Sainey Camara, on Monday December 10th, testified before the Court-Martial on how the cautionary statements of the two accused persons were obtained.

Warrant Officer-1 Sulayman S. Badjie and Lance Corporal Lamin Kujabi of the Gambia Armed Force (GAF), were on Wednesday November 21st 2018, charged with incitement of mutiny, conspiracy to commit mutiny and endeavor to persuade members of GAF, to take part in mutiny.

Giving evidence before the panelist of the Court-Martial, the witness said on the 29th of March 2018, he was instructed to take the cautionary statements of the two accused persons; that it was the accused persons who made their own statements in the presence of an independent witness. He averred that the statements were signed by the accused persons and the independent witness, and were endorsed by him. The statements were tendered and marked as exhibits.

Before the witness gave his testimony, Counsel O. Suso from the National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA), made an objection that the witness should not be allowed by the Court to give his testimony. Suso said the Court-Martial is a superior Court with a jurisdiction as that of the High Court; that the witness’ name is not in the list of witnesses. He said as provided by Section 175 B of the Criminal Procedure Code, the defense should have been served the summary of the evidence of the witness.

“We have just been served with additional list of witnesses in which his name (the witness), is indicated but his summary of evidence is not attached,” said Counsel Suso. He argued that serving a list of additional witness without the summary of evidence being attached, is a violation of Section 24 (3) of the Constitution. He urged the Court not to allow the witness to testify, because the prosecution has failed to follow the laws.

Counsel AN Yusuf in his counter argument said, the prosecution has complied with the provisions of Section 175 B of the CPC. He relied on Section 111 (2) of the GAF Regulation Act which states that the witness can still testify, despite the summary of evidence not being attached to the additional list of witnesses. Counsel Yusuf said the CPC is a general application of the criminal procedure code whilst the GAF Regulations is specific to the Court-Martial.

In his reply on points of law, Lawyer O. Suso said the issue of services within a reasonable time, is to ensure fair hearing. He said Section 111 (2) of the Regulations cannot prevail over the provision of Section 24 (3) of the Constitution. The Court overruled the objection and allowed the witness to testify.

By Dan Lamothe

Dan Lamothe
Reporter covering the Pentagon and the U.S. military

December 10 at 3:28 PM

Retired Army Gen. James J. Grazioplene 

A retired Army general has been indicted on charges of rape in Virginia, seven months after a judge dismissed related charges in the military justice system because the statute of limitations in that case had changed.

James J. Grazioplene, 69, faces multiple counts in Prince William Circuit Court, according to court records. Authorities said the alleged attacks occurred between Aug. 1, 1987, and May 1, 1988.

Grazioplene was arrested Friday at his home in Gainesville, Va., booked and arraigned Monday morning. His attorney, Thomas Pavlinic of Annapolis, acknowledged a court appearance and said his client says he’s not guilty, but otherwise declined to comment.

It is the latest chapter in legal troubles for the retired two-star officer, who was charged by the Army last year with rape after an Army investigation dating back to early 2015.

In that case, authorities accused Grazioplene of numerous instances of raping a minor between 1983 and 1989, a span in which he lived for a time in Prince William County.

He also lived at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, Fort Bragg in North Carolina and in Germany during that time frame.

Retired Army Gen. James J. Grazioplene (Prince William County police)
Military officials prepared to court-martial Grazioplene this year rather than passing on the decades-old case. The U.S. military has prosecuted a general on felony charges just a handful of times in modern times.

Army officials heard evidence against Grazioplene during an Article 32 hearing at Fort Meade, Md., in August 2017 in which the general’s accuser described years of abuse at his hands.

Pavlinic, Grazioplene’s attorney, questioned whether the accuser had fabricated memories due to years of therapy, but the Army decided there was sufficient evidence to pursue a court-martial.

The case fell apart this year after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces found in another case, U.S. v. Mangahas, that there should be a five-year statute of limitations on rape charges. In that case, a rape charge against an Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Edzel D. Mangahas, was dismissed.

His accuser said he had raped her while they were both cadets at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., in 1997.

The decision by the appeals court, considered one step down from the U.S. Supreme Court in military cases, led the Army to dismiss its case against Grazioplene in March.

Virginia, however, has no statute of limitations on rape charges and can pursue a case separately.

The Army also could punish Grazioplene administratively, with options including demotion in retirement and a formal written reprimand.

Brig Gen. Omar Jones, the Army’s chief of public affairs, declined to comment on Grazioplene’s case on Monday, saying it would be inappropriate for the service to do so while there is pending legal action.

Grazioplene joined the Army as an armor officer in 1972 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and served in Iraq during a 33-year career.

His last position was at the Pentagon as the director of force development for the Joint War­fighting Capabilities Assessment, which provides information to the Pentagon’s top officer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A government report Friday said Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooter Devin Kelley would not have been able to buy the weapons he used if the Air Force had notified the FBI about a domestic violence conviction. File Photo by Larry W. Smith/EPA-EFE

Dec. 8 (UPI) — The U.S. Air Force failed to notify the FBI about six incidents that would have prevented the Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooter from purchasing a gun, a watchdog report said Friday.

The Inspector General of the Defense Department said if the Air Force had followed its own protocol, it would have submitted Devin Patrick Kelley’s fingerprints to the FBI background check database four times in relation to his court martial conviction on domestic assault charges. The military branch also should have submitted two reports on Kelley’s final disposition.

On Nov. 5, 2017, Kelley started shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, about 35 miles southeast of San Antonio, killing 26 people. A civilian shot Kelley as he left the church, and while injured, he led two civilians on a high-speed chase.

Kelley’s vehicle ultimately crashed, and he was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds, including one self-inflicted to the head.

Had the Air Force notified the FBI of Kelley’s 2012 conviction for beating and choking his wife and striking his infant stepson, he would not have been able to buy the three firearms he used in the attack from a federally licensed dealer, the report said. Kelley was discharged from the Air Force after the conviction and served one year in military prison.

The 138-page report said Air Force officials offered no good reason for why they didn’t notify the FBI. In some instances, the inspector general found that Air Force investigators were unclear or unaware of the requirement.

“The investigators and confinement personnel had a duty to know, and should have known, the DoD and USAF fingerprint policies, and should have followed them,” the report said. “The failures had drastic consequences and should not have occurred.”

The report suggested the Air Force develop a background check process at the time of recruitment, and review the training on submitting final disposition reports and fingerprints to the FBI.

Relatives of some of the shooting victims filed a wrongful death claim against the Air Force for not reporting his conviction to the FBI.

DJ Johnson in a distributed photo during his senior year at the Air Force Academy. Photo from AFA/Gazette

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (The Gazette) – Former Air Force fullback D.J. Johnson was convicted on two charges of sexual assault, a press release from Moody Air Force Base announced Thursday.

Johnson was sentenced to 10 years of confinement, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and dismissal from the military.

A panel of officers found Johnson guilty of two acts from September 2017, in which one victim was incapable of consenting to the sexual act due to impairment by alcohol. The second victim did not consent to the sexual acts.

Johnson, a second lieutenant referred to in the press releases as D’Andre, was serving as a logistics officer at the Georgia base when the incidents occurred.

Click here to read the full article by 11 News partner The Gazette.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman has pleaded guilty to using and distributing illegal drugs to fellow midshipmen at the academy, a school spokesman said Friday.

Zachary Williams has been sentenced to 13 months confinement and dismissal from the Navy, said Cmdr. David McKinney, the academy’s spokesman.

Williams, of Canal Fulton, Ohio, pleaded guilty at the Washington Navy Yard on Thursday to introduction of a controlled substance on a military installation and distribution of a controlled substance. He also pleaded guilty to failure to obey a general regulation, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and use of a controlled substance.

The charges were based on an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service that began in November 2017, after midshipmen brought the drug use to the attention of school officials. Some of the charges related to Williams’ arrest by the Dover Police Department in Delaware for selling and possessing controlled substances at a music festival in June.

As a result of the investigation, six midshipmen were kicked out of the academy for using illegal substances, and five were disciplined for other policy violations. The guilty plea from Williams concludes the case, McKinney said.

“The U.S. Navy and the Naval Academy both have a zero tolerance policy towards the wrongful use of controlled substances,” McKinney said.

The case prompted the academy to conduct a full review and make changes to urinalysis drug testing. Every midshipman will be tested randomly at least three times a year.

Prosecutors said Williams obtained drugs on the dark web, where people search for drugs through secret web browsers and buy them using encrypted channels, code names and virtual currencies. Some of the drugs named in the case included cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms and ketamine, which is an animal tranquilizer that can cause hallucinations.