Forensic Expert Continues Testimony in Police Shooting Case


By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)

Police Forensic Expert Francis Jatta on Tuesday, 21 May informed the high court they could not trace the fingerprints on the gun allegedly used to shoot two policemen at the Sukuta-Jabang Traffic Lights roundabout. The forensic officer said the purported murder gun had been left in the open for ten (10) days exposed to heat, which rendered it unsuitable for DNA analysis for fingerprints.

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 the 12th of September 2023 Ousainou Bojang shot three police personnel with a gun at the Sukuta traffic lights resulting in the death of two leaving the other with life-threatening injuries. Ousainou denied the allegations in court.

The witness concluded his evidence and he is now being cross-examined by Defence Lawyers Lamin J Darboe and Sillah.

Lawyer Lamin J Darboe: Where did you meet the accused?

Francis Jatta: It was on 22nd of September 2023, the day the pistol was recovered. It was at the Sukuta-Jabang traffic lights where we located the pistol.

Lawyer Lamin J Darboe: How was the pistol found?

Francis Jatta: We discovered it in pieces, with the slice cover separated from the main body.

Lawyer Lamin J Darboe: How many pieces was it in?

Francis Jatta: It was in two pieces.

Lawyer Lamin J Darboe: As a Forensic officer, should you have assembled the pistol?

Francis Jatta: No, we kept the pieces separate and sent them to the army. They assembled it after conducting their ballistic examination.

Lawyer Lamin J Darboe: Did you advise the army to keep it as it was?

Francis Jatta: The advice was for them to leave it as it was, but they decided to assemble it according to their protocols.

Lawyer Lamin J Darboe: You talked about a report. How many reports were sent?

Francis Jatta: For the pistol, they sent only one report.

Lawyer Lamin J Darboe: The analysis on the ammunition was sent to you in one report or?

Francis Jatta: In two reports, one for the ammunition and the other for the pistol.

Lawyer Lamin J Darboe: Can you show to the court which part of the pistol was separated from the gun?

Francis Jatta: The slice cover.

The court watched while the witness tried to separate the gun, but he was not able to separate the parts.

Lawyer Lamin J Darboe: I am putting it to you that no slice cover can be separated from the gun.

Francis Jatta: There is a slice cover.

Lawyer Lamin J Darboe: You said the army sent a report. Did the report only cover the ammunition or the pistol as well?

Francis Jatta: The report covered both the ammunition and the type of gun the ammunition it can use.

Lawyer Lamin J Darboe: When did you encounter ACP Pateh Bah, ACP Fakebba Darboe, Thomas R.J Gomez, and Commissioner Pateh Jallow?

Francis Jatta: The first three, ACP Pateh Bah, ACP Fakebba Darboe and Thomas R.J Gomez, we found them at the scene while Pateh Jallow met us there.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Was there an officer from the Anti-Crime, you were in direct contact with?

Francis Jatta: Yes, Salia Gaye.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Did you recover any items from him?

Francis Jatta: Yes, we received all items recovered from the scene through him.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Do you recall the date of the incident?

Francis Jatta: On the 13th, we received two empty bullet cases, but not from a liaison officer.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: From whom did you receive the two empty bullet cases?

Francis Jatta: From Ebou Sowe, but he came along with Sarjo Ceesay.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: What is your understanding of a live round?

Francis Jatta: A live round is a bullet that can kill or cause fatal injuries.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Is it not the case that live rounds are different from the three empty bullet cases?

Francis Jatta: The difference is the live round contains a bullet and all the components while the empty cases are just the empty casings of the live round.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: You talked about vehicles. What happened to the vehicle?

Francis Jatta: The vehicle was shot, and the windshield was shattered.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Where is the vehicle?

Francis Jatta: It was parked at the Sukuta police station, and we requested it for reconstruction at the crime scene. After the examination, it was returned to the Sukuta police station.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Were you able to determine the type of weapon that broke the windshield?

Francis Jatta: No, I cannot determine but I know it was broken by a bullet.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Three bullets were used against the police officers.

Francis Jatta: I cannot determine that but I know three bullet casings were discovered.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: It is correct to say that there was an unused bullet, that is the live round.

Francis Jatta: Yes.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Your reconstruction scene, were you able to determine the positions of the police officers?

Francis Jatta: We were not present at the scene, but based on the information given to us, we cannot state their exact locations.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Your reconstruction positioned the officers at a particular place, correct?

Francis Jatta: Yes, that is correct.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Where was the vehicle concerned and the officers’ positions?

Francis Jatta: According to the information we received, two officers fell on the road while the third fell off the road near the parked vehicle.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: So, there are four directions, one to Sukuta, one to Jabang, one to the Airport and one to Turntable. Where exactly was the vehicle parked?

Francis Jatta: It was parked near the roundabout leading towards the road to the airport.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Did you make the sketch plan?

Francis Jatta: No, my superior made the sketch plan.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Would you be able to identify the sketch plan if you see it?

Francis Jatta: Yes, based on features on the sketch plan such as the restaurant, roundabout and other features captured in the plan.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: As second in command, you will be able to recognise the plan?

Francis Jatta: Yes.

After the witness confirmed the plan, Counsel Lamin J. Darboe sought to submit the crime scene management unit reports as a defence exhibit. This submission was accepted by the court without objection by the Director of Public Prosecution A.M Yusuf. Justice Jaiteh marked it as Exhibit D8, pages 1 to 19 of the crime scene report.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: Salia Gaye took a mobile smartphone from the first accused. Did he surrender that phone to you?

Francis Jatta: I cannot remember unless I go through the records.

Counsel Lamin J Darboe: I am putting it to you why the phone was kept away from the investigation because the phone made it conclusively clear that the first accused (Ousainou Bojang) was not at the scene of the crime.

Francis Jatta: I am not aware of a phone being recovered unless I checked from the report.

Cross-examination by Counsel Sillah

Counsel Sillah inquired whether any fingerprints matched those of the gun user. Francis Jatta explained that while some finger marks were detected on the gun after attempting to take fingerprints using a foam chamber, they were not clear enough for analysis.

He further explained that the gun had been left in the open for 10 days, exposed to rain and heat, which rendered it unsuitable for DNA analysis.

When asked by Counsel Sillah what he would say about the claim that the alleged murder weapon was used by a trained masked person, who was trained in using a pistol, Francis Jatta expressed that he was not an expert to ascertain that unless a military expert.

The presiding Judge Justice Jaiteh adjourned the case to the 27th of May 2024 at 14:15 for a new witness to appear (PW9).