Businessman Testifies in Police Shooting Case  

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By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)
 
Defence Counsel Lamin J. Darboe on Tuesday, 20 February 2024 cross-examined the prosecution witness, who claimed that he was the independent witness at the time the alleged police shooter’s statements were obtained.
Ousainou Bojang, a resident of Brufut, is facing charges of murder, attempted murder, committing a terrorist act, and assault causing grievous bodily harm. His sister, Amie Bojang, is charged with accessory after the fact to murder.
The prosecution alleged that on 12 September 2023 while at the Sukuta traffic lights, Ousainou Bojang, shot three police personnel with a gun, resulting in the death of two leaving the other with life-threatening injuries. Ousainou denied the allegations in court.
The court is currently looking into the claim by the Defence that Ousainou Bojang was beaten and drugged by the police at the time of obtaining his statement.
The witness was one Alieu Cham, a resident of Sukuta and a businessman who engages in the sale of motor vehicles. 
Cham, a 37-year-old stated that he did not witness any form of beating or force being applied to Ousainou Bojang at the time of taking his statement. However, he stated that Ousainou’s initial statement was taken and after 5 to 7 days, he was recalled by the police to witness another statement taking from Ousainou Bojang.

Below is the detailed cross-examination of the witness by Defence Counsel Lamin J. Darboe:
Counsel Darboe: Mr Cham, this second engagement between Mr Sowe and the Ousainou, where did it take place? 
Witness: The Police Station inside the Airport. 
Counsel Darboe: Were you at the airport that day?
Witness: Yes.
Counsel Darboe: When you were called, where were you at the time?
Witness: I was at Salagi.
Counsel Darboe: So, you only went to the airport because you were called by Ebou Sowe, the detective at the Anti-Crime Unit.
Witness: No, he was not the one who called me directly. 
Counsel Darboe: You were called by IGP.
Witness: No, I don’t know the person who called me. I just received a call, and I was asked whether I was Alieu Cham, the independent witness. I told him yes and he asked me to go to the Police Station inside the Airport.
Counsel Darboe: Did you recall what date it was? 
Witness: No, I cannot remember but it was during the weekend. 
Counsel Darboe: Did you recall the time? 
Witness: No, I cannot remember that.
Counsel Darboe: But you recall the date of your first so-called appearance which you said was on a Friday. 
Witness: Yes, I can remember that day. 
Counsel Darboe: So, do you habitually act as an independent witness for the police? 
Witness: No, this is my first to be involved in such a situation. 
Counsel Darboe: When you went to the airport, how many of you were in the room? 
Witness: About five to six including myself.
Counsel Darboe: Did you recall their names?
Witness: I don’t know anybody among them except for Sowe. Because of the vehicle that took me, I was in that vehicle with him. The driver and one person were sitting at the front while Sowe and I were sitting at the back. When we entered the room, there were two people watching football.  
Counsel Darboe: Were they still watching football when the voluntary statements were taken? 
Witness: Yes, they were sitting and even greeted each other and there was a table at one side and another table at another side and we sat on the other one.  
Counsel Darboe: But that is a very small room, how can two activities take place there? 
Witness: When I arrived, I found people sitting at their tables. So, the other table we were supposed to sit at does not even have chairs. Chairs were brought for us to sit.
Counsel Darboe: How did the session commence? 
Witness: Sowe brought papers, and he told me that charges were levelled against the accused person. 
Counsel Darboe: Can you tell the court what those charges were? 
Witness: No, I cannot because the papers were many and that day Ousainou denied all the charges levelled against him. 
Counsel Darboe: That is fine, but how did Mr Sowe start the session? 
Witness: No, I do not pay attention to that part. 
Counsel Darboe: What language was Mr. Sowe speaking in?
Witness: In the Mandinka Language. 
Counsel Darboe: Was it Mandinka Language from the beginning to the end? 
Witness: Yes, on that day. 
Counsel Darboe: Have you heard Sowe speaking Wolof that day?
Witness: On that day, I did not pay attention to Sowe speaking any other language apart from Mandinka. Sometimes they speak both Mandinka and Wolof but on that, they speak only Mandinka. 
Counsel Darboe: The day they were speaking in both Mandinka and Wolof was on the 15th of September 2023. 
Witness: Yes 
Counsel Darboe: Is it correct that Mr Sowe was speaking exclusively in Wolof and sometimes speaks in Mandinka. 
Witness: That might be possible, but I was not paying attention to that. 
Counsel Darboe: You told the court that on that day Mr. Sowe was speaking in Wolof and sometimes in Mandinka. What you told the court is what I am repeating. 
Witness: That was the first day when they were speaking both Mandinka and Wolof. But the second day what I can remember is that they were speaking in Mandinka. 
Counsel Darboe: Did Mr Sowe speak to both you and Ousainou on the first day in English?
Witness: I am not aware of it.
Counsel Darboe: Can you tell the court how Mr. Sowe tells the first accused ‘we are obtaining the cautionary statements?’ How did he say that in Wolof? 
Witness: I can understand the Wolof Language when it is spoken, but I cannot speak in Wolof. I heard him speaking in Wolof, but I cannot say it. 
Counsel Darboe: Did you tell Mr. Sowe that you couldn’t speak Wolof?
Witness: Yes, I told him.
Counsel Darboe: So, he insisted that you could be a witness even though you cannot understand the medium of communication. 
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) objected saying the question was not fair. Lawyer Darboe reframed the question and asked “So Mr. Sowe continued to talk to the Ousainou in Wolof even though you told him that you couldn’t speak Wolof?”
Witness: Yes, when he was taking the statement, he will read it to me in Mandinka for my understanding.
Counsel Darboe: Mr. Cham, I am putting it to you that you were never there acting as an independent witness when the first accused statements were obtained at the premises of the Anti-Crime Unit. 
Witness: I was there, I am under oath, and I am a very young man. 
Counsel Darboe: Your presence at the Airport was recorded, but your presence at Anti-Crime was never recorded. 
Witness: On Friday I was not there to be a witness. A white lady bought a vehicle from me. She told me the police arrested a man and I was there to serve as a witness. She asked me to go to Anti-Crime. I drove to Anti-Crime, before I entered, I stood at the gate and called the white lady, and she asked me to go through the back gate. So, I went through the back gate and stood under a mango tree. I was waiting for the white lady, but I did not see her. So, as I was standing, someone came to me and asked me to be a witness. At the time I did not know Sowe. He told me that they had a case and wanted me to be their witness. I asked him how because I have never done this before. I told him that I was there for a mission and that day was our Nawettan game. So, I entered inside, within five minutes. I told him no; I am not here for this. 
I could remember his face that he was the one accused of killing the police officers. When I saw his face, I could remember the pictures I saw on the internet. I was not comfortable, so I told Sowe that I was not here for this, I was in a hurry. 
Counsel Darboe: I am putting it to you that you know Sowe very well, he lives in a part of Sukuta where you used to live before you moved to Salagi. 
Witness: I have never seen Sowe before. It was the first time I saw him. I swear to the holy Quran. I am saying what I know. I am a very young man. 
Counsel Darboe: So, on this day, what time did the engagement between Mr. Sowe and Ousainou started? 
Witness: It started from 11 am to 12 pm and we were there until the Jummah prayer that day. I did not pray the Jummah prayers and Sowe also did not pray. 
Counsel Darboe: Did Mr. Sowe allow you to make or receive calls during the engagement?
Witness: Yes, I received calls, one of them from boys at the camping and I asked them to go to the field so that I could meet them there. I think 3 times. 
Counsel Darboe: I am putting it to you that you made more 20 calls when Ousainou’s cautionary statement was supposedly taken by Mr Sowe.
Witness: I know it is more than 3 times, but I don’t think it is more than 20 calls. I make calls and speak with my players because I am their coach. 
Counsel Darboe: I am putting it to you that, according to the police diary, the first accused was with the panel at 10:55 am and was taken back to his cell at 3:58 pm.  
Witness: I have no idea.
Counsel Darboe: I am putting it to you that you were at the Anti-Crime that day, but you did not speak the truth when you said that you acted as an independent witness. 
Witness: What I said is the truth, I swore to the Quran, I am a youth and I will not lie under oath. 
Counsel Sillah for the second accused person, Amie Bojang, cross-examined the witness.
Counsel Sillah: Mr. Cham, can you tell this court what you do for a living?
Witness: I am a businessman. I sell cars and my brother is abroad. He sends cars and I sell them for him. 
Counsel witness: How old are you? 
Witness: I am 37 years old. 
Counsel Sillah: What did you come to the Police Station to do? 
Witness: I cannot recall the time but when they were obtaining the statement it was between 11 am to 12 pm. 
The case was adjourned to today for the continuation.