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Published On: Wed, Feb 7th, 2024

“Ebou Sowe Offered Ousainou a Drugged Cup of Coffee” Says Defense Lawyer

During the Voir Dire in the case of Ousainou and Amie Bojang, defense lawyer Lamin J Darboe put forward to Ebou Sowe the first state witness in the Voir Dire that on the night of 13th September 2023, he offered Ousainou a coffee in a paper cup and in that coffee was a certain drug that sent the 1st accused to sleep within 5 to 10 Minutes to which Sowe responded that it never happened.

Counsel Darboe further said to Sowe that “did you not say that on the 13th September 2023 you wanted to take the cautionary statement of the 1st Accused but he said he was tired according to your statement”, Sowe responded “yes my lord that is correct.”

Counsel Darboe further asked Sowe what time it was because that 13th September 2023 was a very busy day for him and Sowe replied on the 13th it was around midnight and it was the accused person’s first night in detention.

Counsel Darboe further said to Sowe that he lied to conduct this operation in the middle of the night, Sowe replied that it is true, that particular day 13th September 2023 was very exhausting in the investigative process and therefore the statement was recorded at that particular time.

Counsel Darboe further highlighted how Sowe came to collect Ousainou’s Cautionary statements with just empty papers and asked Ousainou to thumbprint on those empty papers to this Sowe replied that the only statement paper that Ousainou thumbprint on was the one where he narrated that he was tired and needed to rest he further highlighted that was the exact thing that he recorded and no further was given to Ousainou whether empty or not.

Counsel Darboe highlighted to Sowe that the accused Ousainou was literate so why was he refused by Sowe to write his own statements but to this Sowe responded that the accused was informed that he could write his own statement if he wished but the accused opted for Sowe to write the statements for him.

Counsel Darboe put forward to the witness that it would have been better if the accused had signed his statements rather than being forced to thumbprint but Sowe replied that he was never forced to do anything.

When asked whether it’s true that the entire process of the accused person’s detention from 13th September 2023 at the Anti-Crime Unit up to the day he was transferred to Mile 2, no part of that process was audio or video recorded, Sowe replied that he personally did not record him nor is he aware of any recordings. Counsel Darboe said to Sowe “he was under your complete control for that entire period” to this Sowe replied “My lord he was under Police Custody”.

Sowe was also asked by Counsel Darboe about what time he commenced taking the cautionary statements of Ousainou on the 15th of September 2023, to this Sowe replied that his engagements with Ousainou started at around 12:00 hrs midday but the statements were taken around 13:00 hrs.

When asked where he found the Independent Witness (Alieu Cham), Sowe replied that he was found at the Anti-Crime unit Complex around 12 noon as he further attested that Cham does not work at the Anti-Crime Unit nor for any security service in the Gambia Government. Counsel Darboe also inquired about what the Independent witness was doing at the Anti-Crime Unit since the Anti-Crime Unit is not a social complex to this Sowe replied that Anti- Crime Unit is a public institution and he was told by Cham that he (Cham) came to the complex because he had issues to sort out. Counsel Darboe insisted that Sowe should know as an investigator what type of issues Cham was sorting at the Anti-Crime Unit and Sowe replied that what he is more particular with was the witness had nothing to do with issue at hand.

Counsel Darboe told the witness (Sowe) that “was it not the case that he (Alieu Cham) was brought there by superintendent Lamin Cham, who was a member of the panel and from Sukuta to be a so-called independent witness” to this Sowe replied “not to my knowledge”.

“So Alieu Cham, the independent witness, was present for 1 hour before you commenced recording the cautionary statements,” Counsel Darboe said to Sowe to which Sowe replied “my contact with him (Alieu) before the commencement of the statements, was less than 20 minutes”. Counsel Darboe further said to Sowe “But you said that you started recording the actual cautionary statement at 13:00 hrs but you started the whole process at 12:00 hrs”, Sowe replied “the entire process started around 12:00 hrs and the independent witness has to be there”.

Sowe was also asked by Counsel Darboe if he knows Musa Bah and SI Jobe of the Anti-Crime to which Sowe replied that he does not know Musa Bah but he knows SI Jobe. When also asked if he can recall the Friday Night of 15th September 2023 to which he said yes, he can recall. “Is that not the night that Musa Bah and SI Jobe mercilessly beat the first accused” Counsel Darboe asked, to this Sowe responded with “i do not know of any dealings that SI Jobe had with the first accused, in fact SI Jobe was not a member of the Investigative team”. Counsel Darboe further said “was it not the case, that according to the first accused, SI Jobe and Musa Bah asked the first accused whether he knows the jugulars” to this Sowe replied “i have never witness such an encounter, i do not know anyone at the Anti-crime that goes by the name Musa Bah.”

Defence lawyer Darboe further said to Sowe that it was in his presence that Musa Bah told the first accused that unless he told them where the gun was, he would be killed to this Sowe replied he does not know Musa Bah nor has he witnessed such an encounter. When also asked whether on the 14th September 2023 he had gone to the first accused person’s cell around midnight to 1am and took him somewhere within their Anti-crime unit to this Sowe replied with “no that did not happen”.

Counsel Darboe concluded his Cross-examination with the first accused and handed over to MK Mboge the Second Defence Lawyer.

In MK Mboge’s Cross-examination with Anti–crime Police Officer Ebou Sowe he started with asking Sowe if he had made a witness statement in respect to this matter and where was it to which Sowe responded with a yes, and that the said statement was sent to the AG’s Chambers.

Counsel Mboge applied for the witness statement dated 10th November 2023, which was given to Sowe for him to confirm to which Sowe replied that it was his statement and Mboge applied for the statement to be tendered into the Voir Dire with no objections from both the State Lawyer and the first Defence Lawyer, Justice Jaiteh admitted the statement as exhibit VD15.

Counsel Mboge asked Sowe to look at the statement admitted as exhibit VD15 and tell the court when the statement was taken, Sowe replied that the statement was taken on the 10th of November 2023, Counsel Mboge further said “that was surely after the exhibits of the Cautionary and Voluntary statements you obtained from the accused person” Sowe replied “that is correct”. Counsel Mboge further said to Sowe that whether he was instructed to collect a cautionary statement after the panel interacted with the accused and was, he (Sowe) part of the panel to this Sowe said yes to both questions.

“Is it true that the panel was in the form of a question and answer” Counsel Mboge inquired.”Yes, my lord” Sowe responded when asked if this interaction was recorded by either Sowe or any of the members of the panel, Sowe replied with “recorded in what form” to which Counsel clarified with recorded in writing form to which Sowe replied that interrogations are usually recorded in Information type. Counsel Mboge pressed that this particular interaction on the 13th whether it was recorded in Sowe’s Diary to which Sowe said it should be recorded but Mboge was not satisfied adding that “it should be recorded and it is recorded are 2 different things, tell us clearly it should be recorded does not mean it is recorded” Sowe replied “it should be recorded but I  do not know if it is or not”.

“Are you telling this court that throughout the interrogation, you did not know what happened, you were just there, you did not know if it was recorded” to this Sowe replied “I  never said that, all i am saying is i do not know whether the interrogation was recorded or not” Counsel Mboge went on to say that “ do you want this court to believe that as a member of Panel you did not see anyone recording the interrogation between the panel and the accused”. Sowe replied “I cannot determine what the court believes or not”.

Counsel Mboge told the witness (Sowe) that in the same witness statement VD15 “he wished to be awarded the chance to record his statement another time as he was tired and that what was recorded in the diary is that true” to this Sowe replied with a yes. Counsel Mboge further told Sowe if he could produce the diary if asked by the court to which Sowe said yes.

Mboge applied for the station diary of 13th September 2023 to be provided with no objections from both the first defence lawyer and state lawyer, Justice Jaiteh ordered PW1 to produce the station diary of Anti-crime today in court for the entries of 13th September 2023.

Case is adjourned to today 7th February 2024 at 2:15 for continuous Cross-examination of PW1 in the Voir Dire by Second Defence Lawyer.

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