Monday, February 26, 2024

High Court to Commence Voir Dire on Allegations of Torture and Drugging

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By: Alieu Jallow

On Monday, Justice Ebrima Jaiteh, presiding over the High Court in Banjul, ruled to conduct a voir dire regarding the allegations of torture inflicted upon Ousainou Bojang, the first accused person in the ongoing murder case related to the police shooting at the Sukuta-Jabang traffic light on September 12, 2023.

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Counsel Lamin J Darboe alleged that his client, Ousainou Bojang, was drugged and beaten by the Police anti-crime unit to extract a statement that the Police claimed to be voluntary. Counsel J Darboe further added that the alleged voluntary statement was obtained in the absence of an independent witness. He objected to Ebou Sowe, a member of the Gambia Police force under the Police crime unit, who was testifying before Justice Ebrima Jaiteh.

Mr. Sowe mentioned that he took a cautionary statement from Ousainou Bojang, the first accused person, on charges of murder (contrary to section 187 of Criminal Code Procedure (CPC)), attempted murder (section 200 of the CPC), assault causing grievous bodily harm (section 214), and prohibition of the act of terrorism (section 3 subsection 1 of the Anti-Terrorism Act). Mr. Sowe informed the court that each statement was read to Ousainou Bojang in the Wollof language, with the presence of an independent witness, Alieu Cham.

“Each of these charges was recorded in the presence of an independent witness where the accused was. The accused confirmed understanding, and I translated within Wollof for each count, and he entered his plea, which was recorded,” Mr. Sowe stated.

Both defense counsels for the first accused person, Ousainou Bojang, and his sister, Amie Bojang, objected to these assertions.

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Counsel LK Mboge, representing the second accused person, Amie Bojang, argued in his submissions that the September 15th statement was incomplete and not in compliance with the law, citing section 31 subsection 2 of the Evidence Act.

In his ruling, Justice Ebrima Jaiteh considered the allegations made by Counsel J Darboe and, therefore, suspended the main trial, initiating a voir dire (mini-trial) to examine the allegations of torture and the influence of drugs on the first accused person (Ousainou Bojang) by the Police anti-crime unit. The case is set to resume today at 2:15 pm.

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