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Military officer involved in Manjai shooting incident testifies

Apr 1, 2015, 2:24 PM | Article By: Dawda Faye

(Issue, Friday 27 March 2015)

Lance CPL Ablie Badjie, attached to the State Guard, on 26 March 2015 testified before Magistrate Patrick Gomez of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court in the Manjai shooting incident trial.

He is the third prosecution witness in the case involving Mustapha Njie, a driver, who was charged with causing the death of Ya Binta Jarju, among other charges.

Lance CPL Badjie told the court that he is a soldier and has been serving for eight years, adding that he could remember what happened on the day of 7 March 2015.

He testified that on this date, he was with Baba Leigh, who is a police officer, and Landing Jarju, who is a soldier, and they were patrolling around Manjai area in their capacity for the security of the country, adding that they patrolled together because it was a joint operation.

They established a checkpoint for vehicles, and they were checking for any dangerous weapons and evil persons.

He said the accused arrived, but he did not know him at the time.

On his arrival, they stopped him but he failed to stop, and drove away. They fired in the air, but still he did not stop.

They then took their vehicle and pursued him. They fired another shot, but he did not stop.

Lance CPL Badjie further told the court that they then overtook the taxi on the left side, and the accused took another direction on the right. Then they shot at the taxi to disable it, and that road was rough, he added.

Badjie testified that their target was to stop the taxi, and that when the accused turned in another direction, the driver knocked some flower trees and the taxi stopped.

He said the purpose of pursuing the taxi was because it did not stop, and they became suspicious and pursued it.

On board the taxi, they found two men and a woman. He did not know the men, Badjie told the court.

He identified the men, in court, as the accused and the first prosecution witness, Sulayman Bah. He found them outside the taxi.

Lance CPL Badjie said they found a girl bleeding inside the taxi, adding that the police later arrived and they were taken to Kairaba Police Station, where their statements were taken.

He added that they then continued on their checking of vehicles.

Badjie also told the court that they were all shooting at the taxi.

Under cross-examination, he said they fired in the air when the accused failed to stop at the checkpoint. He could not remember how many shots they fired.

Lance CPL Badjie revealed that all of them were armed.

Asked how many of them fired at the taxi, he said they fired at the taxi, adding that one Jawara was driving the security vehicle.

Their shooting was aimed to shoot the tyres of the taxi, he further state.

Lawyer Gomez put it to him that none of the tyres was shot at, and he said that their aim was to shoot the tyres, but because of the darkness and the bumpy nature of the road, this could not be achieved.

It was again put it to him that the tyres did not burst, but he stated that he could not say that, because it was dark.

Asked what the position of the lady was, who was found bleeding in the taxi, Badjie said she was lying in the taxi.

He was asked whether all what he said was what happened; nothing less and nothing more.

The police prosecutor, ASP Mballow, then objected. It was a “compound question”, he said.

He added that it was calling for a “yes” or “no” answer, and that it was irrelevant.

Lawyer Gomez submitted that cross-examination is very crucial in a criminal trial, adding that it is the only opportunity the defence has to test the veracity and accuracy of the witness.

However, Magistrate Patrick Gomez asked the defence counsel to rephrase his question, which he did.

The witness said he told the court what he knew about the case.

Lawyer Gomez told Lance CPL Badjie that he never told the court that they opened the boot of the taxi to ensure that there were no illegal arms, and he answered in the positive.

He was asked whether Sulayman Bah did not appeal to them to help him take Ya Binta to hospital, and Badjie said they did not hear him.

Lawyer Gomez put it to him that they “callously abandoned Ya Binta at the scene”, but the witness maintained that they did not hear Sulayman Bah’s appeal to help him take Ya Binta to hospital.

The police officers took her out of the taxi, Badjie added.

Asked whether he was present when the police officers took Ya Binta out of the taxi, he answered in the positive.

The defence counsel put it to him that, according to Sulayman Bah, the security officers abandoned him (Bah) and Ya Binta.

Lance CPL Badjie maintained that he was present when the police officers took Ya Binta out of the taxi.

After seeing the taxi at the scene, he did not see it again, he also told the court.

Asked whether he could tell the court where the blood was coming from, Badjie said that he saw the blood, but did not know where it was coming from.

He was asked whether any of them looked in the taxi to find out the cause of the injury of the lady.

ASP Mballow again objected.

The question should be reserved for the bench, he said and urged the court to examine the question because it was not a proper one.

Lawyer Gomez responded that he was baffled by Mballow’s submission, adding that the witness could answer the question.

The magistrate overruled the objection, and asked the witness to answer the question.

Lance CPL Badjie replied that when they looked in the taxi, they saw the lady bleeding.

The case was adjourned to 31 March and 1 April, 2015.