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Manjai shooting incident: ‘Cause of death was head injury due to gunshot’

Apr 2, 2015, 10:36 AM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Muhammed Sowe, a police officer, on 1 April 2015 told the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court that the primary cause of death in the case involving the late Ya Binta Jarju was head injury due to a gunshot, according to an autopsy report.

He made this statement yesterday when testifying before Magistrate Patrick Gomez.

Testifying as the sixth prosecution witness in the case involving Mustapha Njie, charged with causing the death of Ya Binta Jarju during the Manjai shooting incident, police officer Sowe told the court that on 8 March 2015, at the Major Crime Unit, they received a case file from Kairaba Police Station along with the accused person.

He said it was about a shooting incident that happened at Manjai, adding that he was instructed by his officer commanding to investigate the matter, which he did with cadet inspector Ina Jabbie.

Mr Sowe added that they interviewed the witnesses concerned, who were the security officers on board the vehicle.

He adduced that they had already made their statements at Kairaba Police Station, and they were just confirming their statements, adding that they also interviewed the accused.

He testified that after the said interview, he went to Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, adding that at the time there was a woman involved in the shooting incident who was at the hospital for a postmortem.

The postmortem was conducted, and that a medical certificate of death and autopsy reports were issued to the police.

At that juncture, ASP Mballow gave him the documents to identify, which he did.

ASP Mballow applied to tender the death certificate bearing the name of Binta Jarju dated 9 March 2015, and an autopsy report dated 9 March 2015, all issued by the hospital.

Edu Gomez, the defence counsel, did not raise any objection and the court admitted the said documents.

Mr Sowe further adduced that putting into consideration the content of the documents, his colleagues and him deemed it necessary to see the vehicle involved at the time of the shooting incident.

He added that before going to the scene, the witnesses concerned, after interviewing them, the police were made to understand that the accused refused to stop at a joint checkpoint mounted by the police and the military, which prompted the security officers to follow the vehicle and fired a warning shot.

He added that he got the information from the witnesses, adding that when they fired a warning shot, the driver still failed to stop and they overtook him.

He said they fired a warning shot again, and he again failed to stop, adding that when he tried to manoeuver through a narrow road, they fired to disable the car.

He stated that the car stopped and the security gave them information, adding that they were made to understand that the vehicle was stopped by some flower vase.

Mr Sowe stated that when they heard this from the witnesses, they found out that the windscreen was smashed, putting into consideration the autopsy and the death certificate.

He said investigators were made to believe that the firing occurred because the accused failed to stop, and the deceased died because of the gunshots.

The photo of Ya Binta Jarju and the taxi were shown to him to identify, which he did.

ASP Mballow applied to tender the said photos, and the defence counsel did not object. The documents were admitted by the court.

Mr Sowe continued and told the court that he invited an independent witness, took a cautionary form, asked the accused about his particulars which he filled in the form and read the wording to him, which he understood.

He said the accused thumb-printed and the independent witness signed, adding that he asked the accused to narrate his statement in Wollof and he recorded it in English and read it to him in Wollof, which he confirmed to be his statement.

He said he thumb-printed and the independent witness signed.

The cautionary statement was shown to him to identify, which he did.

Mballow applied to tender it and the defence did not object. The court then admitted the document.

Mr Sowe said he obtained a voluntary statement from the accused and used the same procedure as he did with the cautionary statement, adding that they wrote a report and handed it to the authorities concerned.

Under cross-examination by Edu Gomez, Mr Sowe said he had been in the service for six years and he is a very efficient officer.

He was then given the autopsy report by Edu Gomez, who asked him what was stated in it as the cause of death. He stated that primary cause of death was head injury due to gunshots.

The defence counsel put it to the witness that Ya Binta died because of the bullets discharged by the security officers.

ASP Mballow objected, and said the cause of death of Ya Binta Jarju should be left to the court to determine, adding that the cause of death was the purpose of the trial.

Edu Gomez replied that the medical report and the autopsy report, which the witness received on behalf of the IGP, stated the cause of death, and that the witness was familiar with their contents during the cause of his investigation.

Magistrate Gomez overruled the objection, and stated that the question was relevant and that the documents spoke for themselves.

Mr Sowe was asked whether he was satisfied that Ya Binta died from the gunshots, and he answered in the positive.

Edu Gomez subsequently applied for the accused to be granted bail, but ASP Mballow objected.

The case was adjourned to 14 April 2015, for ruling and defence.