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PIU officer testifies in UDP 15 trial

Jul 21, 2016, 12:56 PM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

The trial of 15 supporters of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) yesterday commenced at the Special Criminal Court of the Banjul High Court.

The trial commenced with the testimony of the first prosecution witness, who was part of the arresting team of the accused persons.

When the matter was called, state counsel B. Jaiteh represented the state, whilst lawyers comprising Anna Njie, Amie Jobe and Yasin Senghore represented the accused persons.

Counsel Njie then reminded the court that there were orders made by the court, during the last adjournment date, which were not complied with, including accessing the accused persons in remand custody at Mile 2 prison by family members.

She said the court also made an order to allow the accused persons to change clothes, adding that the accused persons were in court with the same clothes.

She also submitted that “lawyers are facing difficulties” in getting in touch with their clients, to enable them to have interviews with them.

Lawyer Njie further said that, due to this, the defence could not file bail applications due to lack of crucial information from the accused persons. 

She said they were given the chance once, but the time allocated was too short and they could not talk to many accused persons.

At this point, the trial judge called the prison officer to tell the court why family members were not given access to meet their loved ones.

Officer Kalifa Bojang informed the court that “family members are denied”, because they normally come when the visiting time was closed.

Counsel Senghore also informed the court that they were not still served with the voluntary, cautionary and witness statements by the prosecution.

However, the state counsel said he would serve the defence.

Testifying as the first prosecution witness (PW1), the witness identified himself as Sub-Inspector Alagie Touray of Wellingara and a police officer attached to the Police Intervention Unit in Kanifing.

He recognised the accused persons and could recall what happened on 9 May 2016, adding that he was on duty at the PIU base at around 4: 08pm when their commanding officer, Superintendent Saine, informed them about a mass of people marching from Banjul Highway towards Serekunda end.

They left as a team, including their OC, for the Ice Man Junction where they met a lot of people, he said.

“The crowd was blocking the highway, insulting and shouting,” he told the court. “Our OC told them to stop what they were doing, as it was not in line with the laws of The Gambia, but they refused.”

He again told them to leave and go about their business, but they refused.

The traffic was blocked for passersby, and they (the PIU officers) were then instructed to arrest them for police action, the witness further stated.

At this juncture, the trial judge ordered the prosecution to serve the defence with the voluntary, cautionary statements, and all other necessary documents needed in the matter, before the next adjournment date.