10 January 2013

Gambia: Global Properties MD, Detective Cham Testify in Brusubi Murder Case

Alhagie Sanyang, managing director and proprietor of Global Properties, a private estate developer company in the country and police detective Lamin Cham, attached to the Major Crime Unit of the Gambia Police Force, yesterday gave evidence in the ongoing single count murder charge pressed against Awa Sanyang.

The accused is alleged to have murdered her housemate, Isatou Bojang. She (the accused) was alleged to have on 30th September 2012, caused the death of Isatou Bojang in Brusubi, Kombo South District of the West Coast Region. She also reported the matter to the Brusubi Police Station herself, which led to her arrest, detention, charge and litigation presided over by Justice Emmanuel Nkea of the Special Criminal Court in Banjul.

The proceedings kicked-off with receiving of evidence from the first prosecution witness (PW1) and conduct of voire dire (trial within a trial) meant to determine voluntariness of the second statement made by the accused person.

However, yesterday's proceeding was characterised by receiving of evidence under voire dire from the police detective, Lamin Cham and Alhagie Sanyang, Global Properties MD and proprietor.

Lamin Cham was the first to mount the witness box for continuation of cross-examination by the Legal Aid Counsel. The police detective acknowledged the accused made two separate statements in connection to the murder case and said the accused herself reported the matter to the Brusubi Police Station around 4am to 5am. He said he was present during investigations into the matter and the accused was given the opportunity to consult a lawyer before writing the second statement.

"My Lord, I told her [Awa Sanyang] that she has the chance to see or consult a lawyer before making the second statement, but she said there was no need for it. Recording of the second statement took longer, owing to the constant crying and yelling of the accused. It took about four to five hours before the accused could finish making the second statement. The officers visited the scene of the crime and I was the head of the visiting team," Lamin Cham explained in his voire dire evidence.

He said they arrived at the scene of the crime around 11am to 12pm, while recalling that the second statement was made after the said visit. The police detective further giving evidence on the murder case said, the accused explained among others to the officers, the circumstances surrounding the murder of the deceased Isatou Bojang. He said the accused at first told them that one Ahmed was responsible for the murder of the deceased (Isatou Bojang), but she later said she was lying as she did not even know where the said Ahmed lives and this made the officers not to look for the said Ahmed.

Cham said he was not present when the accused came to report the matter at the Brusubi Police Station, because was it was late at night between 4am to 5am, but he was present when both the first and second statements were obtained from the accused.

Asked whether the accused reported the matter to the police with some people from the neighbourhood, he replied in the affirmative and said the officers had even interviewed many of the neighbours, though the number was less than one hundred people. He added that the accused continued crying while obtaining the second statement.

According to him, the accused said the deceased was her best friend, whom she shared a lot with. He maintained that an independent witness was present during recording of the second statement. This paved the way for the independent witness who later identified himself as Alhagie Sanyang, managing director of the Global Properties to mount the witness box.

Evidence from independent witness

Alhagie Sanyang said he resides in Sukuta and identified the accused as the one he met at the Brusubi Police Station in connection with the murder of Isatou Bojang.

Narrating the circumstances relating to his knowledge about the murder case, leading to his summon to serve as an independent witness, Sanyang said, he went to the said police station following rumors he heard about the murder of Isatou Bojang and upon arrival he saw a large crowd with vehicles parked across the vicinity of the station.

According to him, while in company of the crowd about 4am to 5am, certain police officers emerged from the station and called him inside. He said he went in and found the IGP Yankuba Sonko, Lamin Cham, Malamin Ceesay, Boto Keita, among other officers sitting inside the Commissioner's Office. He sat down and IGP Sonko started asking the accused person some questions relating to the murder.

He added that the accused said, while she was ironing her clothes, the deceased Isatou Bojang entered inside the room and stepped on her clothes. She (the accused) said she drew her attention to it, but the deceased replied in the negative with abusive languages, which prompted her (the accused) to hit the deceased with the iron on her face. She explained that the struggle followed and she (the accused) later fell on ground near the bed. According to her, she then took a wooden stick, hit the deceased on the head and she fell down motionless and died on spot.

Still testifying on the matter, Alhagie Sanyang said, the accused further told the IGP and others present that after she killed the deceased, she left the Brusubi house for one of her brothers house in Bakoteh to change her clothes (the clothes she was wearing at the time of the incident).

The independent witness said that after narrating the circumstances of the matter, a statement was obtained from her (the accused), which he served as an independent witness. However, he said the recording of the statement took longer owing to the constant crying and yelling of the accused. He said the accused signed the statement, he also signed as an independent witness.

Cross-examination

The witness responding to series of questions from the Legal Aid Counsel, said he once went to the Brusubi Police Station to report a theft case, in which his vehicle's wind screen was broken and valuable documents were stolen from his car. He accepted that he was not present when the accused made the first statement, but he witnessed the recording of the second statement and was not aware of any threat, beating or force used on the accused, contrary to the comments made by the defence counsel.

The case comes up on January 15th 2013 for continuation.

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