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Defence overruled in Briton’s murder case

Jun 14, 2012, 1:35 PM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

The Special Criminal Court yesterday overruled the defence in the voire dire trial that was conducted to ascertain the allegation made by the accused persons, that they were tortured in obtaining their statements at the police major crime unit.

Micheal Ifunaya Churwdiken, Agbaze Ugochuku and Collins Chidoke, were accused of murdering a British national, Ian Stokes, at Bakoteh Junction Bar on 13 May 2012.

The ruling came following the defence counsel’s objection to the tendering of the statements recorded from the accused persons, based on the allegations that the statements were not obtained voluntarily.

Justice Emmanuel Nkea said to ascertain this allegation, the prosecution called three witnesses and tendered two exhibits, whereas the defence called two witnesses and tendered no exhibit.

The judge added that the prosecution witnesses denied inflicting torture on the accused persons at the time of recording their statement, but the accused maintained they were subjected to torture before obtaining their statements.

He stated that the allegations made by the accused should be corroborated, adding that the 1st accused, Micheal, described how he was tortured, and showed the court some injuries and scars on his legs.

The judge pointed out that he could not say the cause of the injuries, and the scars seemed to be old scars, stating that he did not believe the allegations that the accused persons were tortured.

The statements of the 1st accused were made voluntarily, and for the 2nd accused, Stanley, he also failed to convince the court that he was tortured before a statement was obtained from him, the judge continued.

He said the accused persons did not discharge the evidential burden of the allegations, stating that he did not believe that the accused persons were tortured.

He consequently overruled the defence objections, and admitted the statements and marked them as exhibits.

Testifying as the sixth prosecution witness, Dr Mustapha Ali Ibrahim adduced that on 18 May 2012, he signed a death certificate and a postmortem report for one Ian Stokes.

Dr Ibrahim told the court that he found multiple penetrations on the abdomen of the deceased and severe injury on the stomach, as well as on the liver and parts of the small intestine.

He said the cause of the death was due to injuries from stabbing.

The postmortem report and the death certificate were tendered and marked as exhibits without any objection from the defence, provided by the legal aid scheme.

At that juncture, PW4, Fansu Sowe, was recalled to continue giving his evidence-in-chief, and he informed the court that he was part of the investigation team, who visited the scene of the crime with the 1st and 2nd accused persons.

He said they also visited Bakoteh Bridge, because the 1st accused had alleged that he discarded his shirt there which bore blood stains, but nothing was found there.

The case continues today.

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