30 November 2012

Gambia: PW Two Testifies in Prison Break Case

Amadou Tamba, a prison officer attached to the Remand Wing of the State Central Prison, Mile II, yesterday 29th of November testified as the second prosecution witness before principal Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade of the Banjul Magistrates' court in the ongoing alleged prison case involving remand prisons at the said Prison namely; Sulayman Jammeh, Lamin Saidykhan, Gibbi Sey, Mustapha Camara, Echen Mendy, Lamin Danso, Muhammed Sighateh, Lamin Njie, Ousman Sonko, Ousman B. Njie, Abou Saidy, Muhammed Dicko, Abdou Sanno, Moses Mbajo, Musa Jallow, Fafa Fatty, Modou Mbenga, Basiru Bah, and Modou Musa Jallow.

Mr. Tamba informed the court that he has been serving Gambia Prison Service (GPS) for six years; adding that on the 27th of October, he was at the remand wing of the said prison and whilst he was on duty and upon completion of their handing over, the prison officers started fetching water for prisoners. He said when the prison officers that were fetching water came up to the remand cell of number 11, he (PW2) puts 20 litre gallon of water at the door of the said cell and told one of his co officers Borry to open the door and put the water in the cell. He said when Borry opened the door of the cell, all the remand prisoners in that cell came out and the first accused Sulayman Jammeh said he was not going back to cell because he wants to go to the toilet but he said PW2 told him that he would not go to the toilet.

Mr. Tamba disclosed to the court that when he told the first accused that he was not going to the toilet he (Tamba) held his hand and the first accused took his leg and put it under his legs and that was the time he decided to leave him. "I asked him to go inside but he said he said he was not going".

He said when Mr. Jammeh alias 'Dad' insisted on not going back to the cell, one of the officers by the name of Lamin Dibba came and got hold of his hand and took him up to the door of the cell and asked him to go in but he refused. He added that Jammeh then took his cigarette and stuck it on Dibba's hand who later left him.

The witness further adduced that the colleagues of Mr. Jammeh in the cell told him to fall down and act like someone who has fainted which he said was done by Jammeh. He said when Jammeh fell down they poured water on him but he refused to get up.

According to the witness, when the first accused fell down, Gibbi Sey brought a bench and started breaking the doors of the cell. "When that happens, I started to go back to my office, Gibbi Sey held my hand and removed my beret", Said witness. He added that when that happens he said he then climbed the tower of the remand wing and stones were thrown at him but he could not know who were those throwing stones at him. He said he later came down and went back to remand wing and that was the time his seniors started to come.

The witness finally alleged that he was tortured by Echen Mendy, Ousman Sonko, Moses Mballow among others.

Under cross examination, the witness told the court that he was scared when the first accused became unconscious; adding that its correct that he heard the other people telling him to pretend to be unconscious.

When asked by counsel Ebrima Jah why he was scared hence he heard other prison officers telling the first accused to pretend to be unconscious, in responds the witness told the court that he called Jammeh and he did not answer him.

Did you and Dibba carry the first accused? Asked counsel.

"No", replied the witness.

At this juncture, counsel puts it to him that both of them carried Mr. Jammeh and took him to the cell and hit him on his head which made him to become unconscious. He then asked him whether he did mention in his statement that he was assaulted, asked counsel, the witness responded in the negative.

Counsel puts it to him that he did not mention it in his statement neither did he mention it in his evidence in chief until he was asked by the prosecutor because it was unfounded.

Responding to another question asked by counsel, the witness disclosed to the court that he sustained injuries when stones were thrown at him but he was beaten by five people but he never sustained any injuries.

Moses Mballow, one of the accused persons puts it to the witness that if five people beat him up, he would not have the strength to climb the tower of the remand wing but the witness insisted that he was not injured.

Hearing continues to the 4th of December, 2012.

Readers could recall that the aforesaid persons are standing trial on four counts of criminal offences i.e. 'Conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, Willful damage to property, Attempt to commit a misdemeanor whilst Gibbi Sey, Echen Mendy, Moses Mbajo, Abdou Sanno and Ousman Sonko are faced with extra charge of common assault contrary to the laws of The Gambia.

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