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Voire dire in Australian national abduction case

Nov 11, 2010, 11:26 AM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

Sulayman Touray a police officer on Monday testified against six Nigerian nationals and their Gambian accomplice in a trial-within-a-trial before Justice Ikpala of the Special Criminal Court in Banjul.

The accused persons, Joeph Okeke, Nonso Mbosah, Anuwa Ibiam, Arinze Izuchukwu, Pius Patrick, all Nigerians, and Awa Touray, a Gambian, are facing trial before the Special Criminal Court for alleged multiple offences ranging from conspiracy to commit a felony, obtaining money by false pretence, obtaining goods by false pretence and stealing.

They allegedly adducted one Justin Leibig, an Australian national, some time in 2009 at Kololi in order to subject him to grievous harm, and have vehemently denied the charges.

Testifying as the first prosecution witness in the voire dire trial, officer Touray told the court that he had served six years in the police force, and is currently posted at Kotu Police Station.

He said he remembered seeing the 4th accused person on 9th February 2009 at the Kotu Police Station, when he was brought by the then Crime Management Coordinator, Yankuba Sonko, now the Inspector General of Police, at a time he (the witness) was on duty.

Officer Touray further adduced that the accused was questioned in relation to the complainant, Justin Leibig, and that he was instructed on 10th February 2009 to obtain a cautionary statement from the 4th accused.

“I went outside of the station and called one Henry Obuwasu to serve as an independent witness in recording the 4th accused person’s statement,” Touray further told the court.

“I recorded the accused person’s statement, in the presence of an independent witness, by reading the cautionary wording to him in English, which he understood and thumb-printed. The independent witness also signed the statement,” he added.

The witness said that he later handed over both the cautionary statement and the accused person to his superiors. Touray recognised the said statement in court, which was admitted as exhibit in the mini trial without any objection by the defence. This followed an application made to that effect by the state prosecutor, N. Jallow.

The witness said the accused was never beaten nor threatened, while he was obtaining the cautionary statement from him, adding that the accused person gave his statement voluntarily.

The case continues.