By Alieu Jallow
The High Court of The Gambia in Banjul, presided over by Justice Ebrima Jaiteh, has issued an order to Detective Ebou Sowe of the Police Anti-Crime Unit to provide the information diary for September 13th, 2023, following an application by defense counsel LK Mboge for the second accused person in the ongoing voir dire (preliminary trial).
The allegation pertains to the first accused person, Ousainou Bojang, who was allegedly beaten and drugged while in police detention.
During the cross-examination, Counsel LK asked the witness if the first accused person’s interactions with the panel of investigators were recorded.
In response, PW1 Ebou Sowe stated that he couldn’t confirm or deny whether the interactions were recorded or not. This contentious question sparked an objection from the Director of Public Prosecution, AM Yusuf, who appeared for the state.
He argued that the witness had already answered the question. However, Justice Jaiteh overruled the objection, stating that the witness was obliged to answer the question.
Justice Jaiteh also noted that the question was straightforward and that the state prosecution should not avoid addressing the matter.
“I don’t know whether it was recorded or not,” Sowe answered.
“Are you telling this court that throughout the interactions, you didn’t know what happened?” Counsel Mboge asked.
“I never said that. All I’m saying is, I do not know whether it was recorded or not,” Sowe responded.
During the trial, Counsel LK Mboge asked the witness if they could produce the information diary of the recording that took place on September 13th, 2023.
The witness confirmed that they would be able to produce it. However, senior counsel Lamin J Darboe, who was defending the first accused person, argued that during their client’s detention at the Anti-Crime Unit and up until their transfer to Mile Central Prison, no part of the interrogation process was recorded either via audio or video.
Detective Sowe confirmed that they had never personally recorded anything either via audio or video.
“I am putting to you that on that night, 14th September 2023, you offered coffee in a paper bag and in that coffee, there was a sense of drug that sent him to sleep within 5 minutes,” Counsel Darboe said.
Counsel J Darboe argued that the purpose of an independent witness was for transparency, but the police did not follow this procedure. Instead, they used their own agents to act as witnesses. However, the witness refuted the allegation that the police had ready-made independent witnesses and emphasized that this had never happened.
During the cross-examination, the state prosecution withdrew the cautionary statement that was dated September 14th, 2023. The case will resume on February 7th, 2024, in order for the witness to submit either the information diary or the station diary of the Police anti-crime unit that is dated September 13th, 2024.