Justice Jaiteh Admits Some Cautionary and Voluntary Statements of Defendant Ousainou Bojang in Murder Trial

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By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)

Justice Ebrima Jaiteh in his ruling in the voir-dire trial involving Ousainou Bojang and the State, admitted some statements made by the defendant as exhibits, considering their compliance with legal standards, and reserved judgment on the weight to be attached to these statements until further evaluation at the end.

At the heart of the ruling was the objection raised by counsel Lamin J Darboe for the 1st accused regarding the admissibility of certain cautionary and voluntary statements allegedly made by his client Ousainou Bojang, the 1st Accused Person. 

These statements were marked as exhibits VD1 to VD15. The 1st Accused person contested the admissibility of the statements on the grounds of involuntariness, claiming he was drugged and beaten during the process and that there was no independent witness present.

When the allegation was made by the first defendant, the court decided to suspend the main trial to enter into a voir-dire trial to establish the allegation that Ousainou Bojang was drugged and beaten while obtaining his statement at the anti-crime unit.

In the voir-dire trial, the prosecution called two witnesses; namely Ebou Sowe, the police officer who recorded the said statements and Alieu Cham, the independent witness who was present when the said statements were recorded. The defence in presenting their case called the 1st Accused person (Ousainou Bojang) who testified in his defence and called the 2nd Accused person (Amie Bojang) as his witness.

In his ruling Justice Jaiteh indicated he meticulously reviewed the testimonies, evidence, and arguments presented by both parties, Justice Jaiteh indicated that the key issue is whether the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that the statements were obtained voluntarily, adhering to legal requirements such as the Judges’ Rules and the Evidence Act.

The Judge highlighted the importance of an independent witness being present during the recording of statements, adding that the legal burden of proof lies on the prosecution to prove the voluntariness of the confessional statements in accordance with section 31(1) of the Evidence Act 1994. It emphasizes the importance of complying with the Judges’ Rules in obtaining confessions from accused persons. 

He said the presence of an independent witness during the recording of statements is highlighted as a requirement for admissibility, as per section 31(2) of the Evidence Act. After a thorough analysis of each statement and the circumstances of their recording, the Judge made a ruling. 

The cautionary statement dated September 15th, 2023 (Exhibit VD2) was deemed admissible as it complied with the legal requirements, including the presence of an independent witness. However, the cautionary statement dated September 14th, 2023 (Exhibit VD1) was rejected due to the absence of an independent witness.

The voluntary statements accepting various charges were also reviewed, with the Judge emphasizing compliance with the Judges’ Rules and Evidence Act. Ultimately, most of the voluntary statements were admitted into evidence as exhibits, while the court will determine the weight of the documents pursuant to section 96 of the Evidence Act, 1994 to be attached to it before proceeding to act on them.  

In conclusion, the Judge admitted some statements as exhibits, and rejected one cautionary statement.

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