#Article (Archive)

In Australian national’s abduction case defence opens voire dire

Nov 24, 2010, 11:13 AM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

The alleged abduction trial involving six Nigerian nationals and a Gambian accomplice continued yesterday at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul before Justice Ikpala.

Yesterday’s proceedings saw the defence opening their case in a trial within a trial (voire dire) to ascertain whether the cautionary statement of the accused person was obtained voluntarily.

The accused persons, six Nigerians and one Gambian, are currently undergoing trial at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul based on alleged multiple offences including conspiracy to commit a felony, abduction, obtaining money by false pretence, obtaining goods by false pretence and stealing.

The accused persons are Joseph Okeke, Nonso Mbosah, Anuwa Ibiam, Arinze Izuchukwu, Pius Patrick, all Nigerians, and Awa Touray, a Gambian.

They were alleged to have adducted one Justin Leibig, an Australian national, sometime in 2009 at Kololi to subject him to grievous harm. They have vehemently denied the charges.

Testifying as defence witness one (DW1), Anuwa Ibiam told the court that he is currently remanded at the Mile 2 central prison.

The witness adduced that he did not tell the recorder of the statement what was written in the statement, adding that he could not remember the time he appended his signature on the said statement, and could not also remember when he thumbprinted it.

“This cautionary statement was made under duress,” DW1 added. “I was beaten and tortured in order to sign this statement, but I refused,” he told the court.

The witness, who vehemently denied the presence of any independent witness at the time his statement was obtained, also told the court that his hands were cuffed at the time, and it was so tight that as a result he was shouting.

Anuwa told the court that he was compelled by the police officer to sign the statement, and that he asked the officer how he could sign a death warrant? “I told the officer that I cannot sign something that I did not know,” he added.

Under cross-examination by state counsel N. Jallow, the witness adduced that he was arrested on 9th February 2009 at the Sarges Hotel in Senegambia and taken to Kotu Police Station, where a statement was obtained from him without the presence of an independent witness.

DW1 told the court that the exhibit did not belong to him, and that he never thumbprinted it. He further told the court that the statement was not made voluntarily, because he was compelled to sign it. He maintained that he was subjected to severe torture.