By Dawda Faye
Patrick Gomez, representative for Ali Cham, alias Killa Ace, today cross-examined the first prosecution witness Demba Bah. Killa Ace was on 22nd November, 2018, charged with breach of the peace and assaulting a police officer.
When the case was called, Sub-Inspector Bobb rose and told the court that she was representing the IGP while Patrick Gomez announced his representation for Killa Ace. Lawyer Gomez then asked the witness:
“How long have you served the Gambia Police Force?”
“You are taking part in many undercover operations?”
“Who gave you command for the investigation you did which led to the arrest of the accused?”
At this juncture, Prosecutor Bobb objected to the question. She said that the witness did not investigate the case but intervened during the push and pull. Counsel Gomez then argued that what the prosecutor said was evidence coming from her and this was cross-examination. He stated that defence lawyers are not bound by evidence given under examination-in-chief. He urged the court to overrule the objection and to ask the witness to answer the question.
Magistrate Joof, who was presiding over the case at the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court, overruled the objection and said that the defence counsel was testing the veracity of the evidence of the witness. The witness then answered:
“Chief Superintendent Mboob gave us command.”
“You were looking for people with suspected stolen goods?”
“Do you know at the time you received the command whether there were reports about stolen properties?”
“I have no idea.”
“You arrived at the Black Market at 8pm?”
“It was 8pm onwards.”
“When you arrived at that time, you will agree with me that there was no lost specific property you were looking for?”
“How many people other than the accused you arrested with a bag?”
“I cannot remember.”
“You did not arrest anyone with a bag other than the accused.”
“I can recall the accused being arrested.”
“You said the sub-inspector approached the accused with a warrant card. How far were you from the accused?”
“It was not far. I saw the accused.”
“Among the officers in the unit, no officer was in uniform.”
“I disagree. Couple Jobe and Couple Camara were in uniform and others whose names I cannot remember.”
“How many can you recall?”
“I can recall four officers.”
“Was Mendy part of the intelligence officers?”
“So Mendy had no uniform?”
“ Those in the intelligence unit do not have uniforms?”
“Yes, but they have their warrant cards.”
“The reason being they are intelligence officers, they should not be identified.”
“It is correct.”
“Because if they are identified it will defeat the purpose of their investigation.”
“Now, why would you be in uniform on that day?”
“I was there to serve as a backup.”
“When you back up somebody, do you stay at the same place?”
“It depends on the geographical area.”
“If the area is a big area, should you be far?”
“I should not be too far.”
“What do you consider as a reasonable distance?”
“There is no estimated distance.”
“If the distance is very small, where should you be?”
“I will be at the scene with the intelligence officers.”
“Is the Serekunda Market big?”
At this juncture, Lawyer Gomez applied to tender the statement of the witness. Prosecutor Bobb then said they could allow the defence counsel to photocopy the statement, because it formed part of the police file.
Magistrate Joof ordered the prosecutor to provide the defence counsel with the said statement, which was done. Counsel Gomez again applied to tender the statement and the prosecutor did not raise any objection. It was admitted by the court as an exhibit.
The said statement was given to the witness to read part of it, which he did. He was told that there was no mention of Mendy showing the accused his warrant card, and he agreed. He was shown his uniform and asked some questions on it.
It was then put to him that when the accused requested the warrant card of Mr. Mendy when he was not in uniform, he told the accused that he was rude, because he felt offended. He said he did not agree. He further told the court that the accused refused to be searched at the scene but was later searched at the Serekunda Police Station.
“You will agree with me that no suspected stolen property was found in the bag of the accused.”
“I am not aware.”
The case was adjourned to the 26th November, 2018, for continuation.
The second prosecution witness, Pierr Mendy, a police officer, testified when the case resumed. He told the court that he is posted at the anti-crime unit (investigation). He testified that he could recognise the accused, noting that he could recall the 29thOctober, 2018. He stated that he was on duty on this day at the anti-crime unit.
He adduced further that around 20.00 hours, he joined a team for a raid at the Serrekunda Black Market, stating that the market is a place where suspected stolen properties are sold at night. He testified that during the raid, the accused was found at the junction with a bag and he identified himself as a police officer with a warrant card.
He narrated that he instructed the accused to open his bag for a search and he refused, noting that the accused told him that he is a dirty police officer to conduct a search on his bag. He added that the accused insulted in Wollof that the IGP did not send them to the Black Market to search people because we are in democracy.
He disclosed that the accused was then arrested and taken to the Serrekunda Police Station where one Sergeant Jobe instructed a police officer called Bah to take the handcuff from the hands of the accused, further saying that immediately Bah opened one had of the accused, the accused slapped him on the left eye and punched him on the mouth.
He said that the accused jumped on Bah which caused the tearing of Bah’s uniform and the upper button was cut off, stating that the accused was insulting bitterly and on their departure to their base at Bijilo, and while in a pick-up, the accused said he was going to commit suicide. He informed the court that the accused jumped out of the pick-up and was caught by one Sergeant Ceesay, narrating that the accused was taken to the ant-crime unit for further action, and that is where he knew the accused as Ali Cham. He further testified that he then gave his statement.
Hearing continues on the 3rdDecember, 2018, for the identification of the uniform.