Gambia: Station Officer Testifies in Prison 14 Trial

The ongoing criminal trial involving 14 prison officers on Monday proceeded at the Kanifing Magistrates' Court before Principal Magistrate Sheriff Tabally. The trial took off with the evidence of Lamin Jallow, the station officer of the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) at the Serrekunda Police Station, as the fourth prosecution witness (PW4).

Testifying before the court, the witness admitted recognising the 14 accused persons.

According to him, on the 30th April 2012 he was assigned to head a panel to investigate a case of office breaking and theft that occurred at the Old Jeshwang Prison. He said he led a 6-man delegation together with Commissioner Njie of the Scientific Support Unit to the scene.

Upon arrival, the witness said, they noticed that one of the windows of the office occupied by Superintendent Momodou Barrow (1st accused) was tampered with and the nova glass was removed. He said fingerprints were then found at the scene by the Scientific Support Unit officers and taken for verification. The witness added that Momodou Barrow and his junior officers were later invited to the Serrekunda CID for questioning. He (PW4) personally confronted the 1st accused hence he is the occupant of the said office, as to whether he at any point in time has tampered with the said glasses.

The prosecution witness went on to narrate that the fingerprints were then taken to the Criminal Records Office (CRO) for verification, and a report was issued to that effect. The report, he said later showed that the fingerprint merged with the left thumbprint of the 1st accused. He told the court that their findings indicated that there was an actual breaking, which was internally done and that all the accused persons were on duty on the date of the incident. PW4 affirmed that the 1st accused person's fingerprint that matched with the fingerprint lifted from the scene made him a suspect.

Responding to defence counsel Moses Richards in a cross-examination, the witness said he precisely did not know when the incident happened and that it wasn't to his knowledge that Momodou Barrow (1st accused) did not work during weekends.

The witness said that he knew very well that the 1st accused was the occupant of the said office and his fingerprint was expected to be in his office. The other accused persons, he went on, were on duty and that as officers, they are tasked for the security of the entire Jeshwang prison; therefore, failure to execute their duties made them suspects.

"Considering the fact of the distance of about 32 meters from the Commissioner's office to the gate lodge and the main yard, they should be able to hear the breaking since they are security officers," he said.

Hearing continues on 30th January 2013.

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