Military Ballistic Expert Testifies in Police Shooting Trial

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By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)

Major Bubacarr Bah, a ballistic expert working in the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) and a resident of Sukuta testified in the police shooting case involving Ousainou Bojang and his sister, Amie Bojang.

Major Bah works at the defence headquarters in Banjul as a staff officer specialised in arms, ammunition, and explosives for military operations. He also conducts ballistic examinations and reports on arms and ammunition for the GAF and other security entities.

When asked whether he recalled conducting a ballistic examination between September and October 2023, he confirmed conducting a series of ballistic examinations from 2023 to 2024. 

On whether he recalls specifically in September 2023 conducting any ballistic examination for the Gambia Police Force, he affirmed receiving a request to examine a pistol for the Gambia Police Force on the 27th of September 2023. He said before that, there was an earlier request to examine four pistol ammunitions, three of which were fired and one was a live round. He said the request for the 27th of September 2023 was in connection with the previous request for small arms.

He testified that a report from the examination conducted in September was dated and signed on the 10th of October 2023 and it was sent to the Gambia Police Force. 

When asked who signed the report, he explained that there are two signatures because he was absent from work. He testified thst his junior, Major Ambruce Dacasta signed the report, while the cover letter to the police was signed by Yerro Jallow. When he came back, he cross-checked and added his signature for his record-keeping.

The ballistic examination report dated the 10th of October 2023 was handed to the witness and he identified it. It was also tendered by the prosecution to form part of the records of the court.

The defence counsel Lamin J Darboe challenged the document. He submitted that the witness was not the author of the report and he did not sign the report. He pointed out that the testimony of the witness is that the document was signed on his behalf by someone. Lawyer Darboe submitted that the author was Major A. Decasta, who should come and tender the report. The defence asked the court to reject the document and marked it rejected.

Counsel Lamin J. Darboe further contended that the witness, Babucarr Bah, signed a report which is different from the one dated the 10th of October 2023. He submitted that Bah should tender the report he signed himself, not the one signed by another officer. 

Counsel O. Sillah associated himself with the submission of Counsel Lamin J. Darboe. He said the other document was signed by Yerro M. Jallow while Yerro Jallow is not before the court and there was no foundation laid to explain why he was not in court.

Additionally, he said Major Decosta was not in court to tender the report.

In response, the Director of Public Prosecution A.M Yusuf argued that the witness (Babucarr Bah) prepared the report, which was signed by Major A. Decasta in his absence, and Yerro Jallow also signed the report. The prosecution emphasised the relevance of the report in the trial and urged the court to consider the evidence presented without allowing technicalities to hinder justice. Yusuf further asserted that the evidence presented in court was authored and signed by the witness. He added the documents the witness confirmed were the report prepared for the ballistic examination of the pistol and four pieces of ammunition. 

He relied on section 3 of the Evidence Act relating to relevance to support his argument, saying the documents in question are relevant to the trial.

“This is a court of justice and no technicality should override the interest of justice,” Yusuf said.

On points of law, Counsel Lamin J. Darboe and Counsel O. Sillah expressed that they did not have a copy of the document in question.

“My lord, we don’t have a copy of that document,” said both defence counsels.

After hearing arguments from both parties, the presiding judge, Justice Jaiteh, overruled the objections and admitted the reports in a bundle as Exhibit P29.

Following this, the DPP requested the witness to identify the pistol and ammunition he examined. The pistol and ammunition were shown to the witness, and he verified them as the ones he had examined and reported on, which were tendered as exhibits P22 and P23.

When asked about the condition in which the pistol was presented to him by the police, the witness said it was given to him dismantled in pieces. After conducting the examination, he reassembled it into one piece.

Lawyer Lamin J. Darboe commenced cross-examining the witness.

The case will come today.