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NDEA officers deny murder charge, three others discharged

Jun 14, 2011, 1:11 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

State prosecutors yesterday filed a one-count indictment for murder against two officers of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul before Justice Ikpala.

Eku P.L Grant and Ebou Lowe, who were arraigned alongside three others, are now charged with murder after they were alleged to have beaten one Cherno Suwareh alias ‘Che Boy’ leading to his death. Suwareh was suspected of possessing cannabis.

The prosecutors in the same vein urged the court in the new indictment to discharge the three other NDEA officers, namely Abdoulie E. Jallow, Matarr Sey Jawo and Alieu Conteh all previously charged with murder at the lower court in Banjul.

"We are not proceeding with the prosecution of Abdoulie E. Jallow, Matarr Sey Jawo and Alieu Conteh because there is no evidence that linked them to the charge," said the Director of Public Prosecutions Mikailu Abdullahi.

DPP Mikailu Abdullahi told the court that the prosecution would use the three officers as witnesses, and urged the court to discharge them.

The presiding judge consequently discharged the three.

Meanwhile, both Eku and Ebou have denied the charge, when the prosecutors presented the new charge against them in court yesterday.

If found guilty of murder, the accused persons could face life in prison or the death penalty, unless the court decides otherwise.

Eku and Ebou now stand accused of unlawfully causing the death of Cherno Alieu Suwareh by hitting him on the head, and knocking his head against the wall, knowing that death would be the probable consequence of such acts.

The indictment indicated that it happened on 25 March 2011, at Bakau in the Kanifing Municipality.

The prosecution is expected to call 16 witnesses to testify in the case.

Shortly after the plea taking, the DPP asked for an adjournment to enable him call his witnesses.

Defence counsel L.S Camara, representing Eku, did not raise any objection to the prosecutor’s request.

Hearing into the case was fixed for 22nd June 2011.

The five narcotics officers were first arraigned at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court charged with two counts of conspiracy to murder and murder, but the case was later transferred to the Special Criminal Court, which has jurisdiction to hear the case.

It would be recalled that police spokesperson ASP Yerro Mballow told journalists at a news conference, after the arrest of the NDEA officers, that they allegedly tortured the late Cherno, which led to his death, eleven days after he was admitted at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul.

The deceased was said to have been found in possession of the illicit drug cannabis, when the narcotics officers raided his house in Bakau.