Saturday, February 4, 2023

Kumba Sinyan’s Murder Trial Proceeds

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By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)

The murder trial of Kumba Sinyan has continued before the high court in Banjul last Friday.

When the case was called, Lawyer Sagarr C.T. Twum announced her representation for the accused person (Kumba Sinyan), while the prosecuting lawyers were not present.

The Judge asked the Defence Counsel whether the prosecution had informed her about their absence and she replied in the negative.

Counsel Twum cited Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code and urged the Court to discharge the accused person or admit her on bail. 

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Section 160 which talks about “non-appearance of the prosecutor at the hearing, provides the following:

“If in a case which a subordinate court has jurisdiction to hear and determine, the accused person comes before the court on a summons, warrant or otherwise, then, if the prosecutor, having had notice of the time and place appointed for the hearing of the charge, does not appear himself or herself or by his or her counsel, the court shall discharge the accused person, unless for some reason it thinks proper to adjourn the hearing of the case until some other date, upon such terms as it thinks fit.”

Counsel Twum said the conduct of the prosecution is disrespectful to the court, and maintained that the prosecution is not serious with the case which she said is not an ordinary case. She submitted that it is a murder trial which cannot be bailed.

She stated that on the last adjourned date, the prosecuting counsel was present and was aware of the date and time for hearing.

She referred the court to Section 226 of the Criminal Procedure Code which deals with the power of the court to postpone or adjourn a proceeding and it reads:

“If from the absence of witnesses or any other reasonable cause to be recorded in the proceedings, the Court considers it necessary or advisable to postpone the commencement of or to adjourn any trial, the Court may from time to time postpone or adjourn the same on such terms as it thinks fit for such time as it considers reasonable, and may by warrant remand the accused person to some prison or other place of security. During a remand, the Court may at any time order the accused person to be brought before it. The Court may on a remand and admit the accused to bail.”

Counsel Twum stated that the State has all the resources at their disposal to communicate to the court.

At that point, the State prosecution team entered the courtroom and Lawyer Abdul Aziz Bensouda announced his representation for the State together with Counsel M. Sanyang. They both apologised to the court for coming late. The presiding Judge accepted the apology by cautioning them.

“This will be the last time you come late to my Court. The next time you do that, I will strike out your case,” Justice Sidi K. Jobarteh warned, and emphasized that she cannot sit in court and wait for lawyers. 

Lawyer Twum was then called to continue her cross examination of Deputy Superintendent Foday Conta. She reminded the witness of his previous testimony that he has been in the police force for 11 to 12 years. Conta said he joined in the January 2011 intake.

On his experience on crime scene investigation, Conta said after passing out from the police training school as a cadet office, he was posted at Basse and transferred to the police headquarters and then Kairaba police as intelligent office before assuming the role of Police Public Relation Officer. He said he is now the Station Officer of the Bakau Police Station.

Conta said he is an experienced  crime investigator. When asked the number of murder cases he has investigated, Conta said he directly investigated one case and was performing supporting role in investigating other murder cases. 

Conta’s police statement was tendered and marked as Defence Exhibit 1.

Conta said he was informed about the murder by one Banja.

“How did you get the information about room 111,” Counsel Twum asked.

Conta said he was led to Room 111 by the receptionist.

“In your own word you told the Court that when you entered the room you found a motionnless person in a pool of blood,” Counsel Twum asked.

“Yes,” Conta answered.

“Did you find him dead or alive,” Counsel Twum asked.

“I will not know whether he was dead or alive because I am not an expert,” Conta answered.

He said the team of investigators comprise himself, SI Badjie, SI Banja and CRO.

“You told the Court that someone told you that Kumba Sinyan is the suspect,” Counsel Twum said.

“Yes,” Conta answered.

Conta said the informant was at the reception.

“Where did the receptionist lead you to,” Counsel Twum asked.

“Kumba Sinyan’s house in Bakau,” Conta answered.

“Can you tell the Court why you didn’t tell Kumba the reason for her arrest at the point of the arrest,” Counsel Twum asked.

“Because at the time of her arrest she was panic, nervous and scared and as officers, we are trained to free the mind before giving information to a suspect,” Conta answered.

“Are you aware that the law of the country says that you should inform the person of his/her arrest?” Counsel Twum asked.

“Yes, depending on the circumstance,” Conta answered.

Lawyer Twum reminded the witness of his evidence that he took the testimony of the Accused Person and he answered in the positive.

“You took it without her consent,” Counsel Twum.

“No, it was done with her consent because she voluntarily gave the phone and unlock it,” Conta answered.

Lawyer Twum reminded the witness about Kumba’s state of mind.

Conta said he took the Accused Person to the Hostel to confront her with the body of the Deceased.

“You told the Court that you took her to the hotel and confronted her with the body that’s unlawful because it seems you’re traumatising her,” Counsel asked.

“No, it is lawful,” Conta answered. The matter was adjourned to the 5th of December from 10:30 to 11:30, on the 6th of December from 11:30 to 12:30 and on the 8th of December at the same time for the continuation of the trial.

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