Monday, November 28

Sainabou Mbye & co plead not guilty to manslaughter, other charges

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Sainabou Mbye, Cherno Mbye and Kibili Dambelly, who are all standing trial on charges of manslaughter and exposing child to danger have all pleaded not guilty to the charges pressed against them during their yesterday’s appearance before Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court.

Corporal Jankeh Manneh, a police officer attached at the Serious Crime Unit (SCU) of The Gambia Police Force (GPF), who was the first prosecution witness (PW1) in the on-going case involving the three accused person, said: “I had contact with the 1st accused person Sainabou Mbaye on the 22 July 2022. I was assigned by my supervisor to obtain a cautionary and voluntary statements from Sainabou Mbye upon her return from Senegal at about 8 p.m.”

“I took the accused person to one of our offices at the Police Headquarters in Banjul. I asked her whether she would be comfortable giving her statement and she responded in the positive. I then took a cautionary statement from her and asked her again as to which language she was comfortable with, and responded that she was comfortable with Wolof. I therefore read the cautionary statement’s wording to her and that she needed not to say anything unless she was asked because anything she said would be taken down in writing and maybe used as evidence in court. I also translated the same to her in Wolof language.”

Asked by the State Counsel Muhammed Sowe as to what happened after she took the cautionary statement of the 1st accused person, Manneh added: “The first accused person told me that she was tired and that she needed to rest. I told her that I had to ask my supervisor about it,” he stated.

“After contacting my supervisor, he told me to allow the 1st accused person to rest.”

On 23 July 2022, the following day, she told the court, she continued recording the cautionary statement of the 1st accused person.

Further asked what happened after finishing recording the cautionary statement of the accused person, she stated: “I read everything to her and translated the same in Wolof in the presence of an independent witness. In fact, she confirmed that what I read to her was the true version of her entire statement. She then endorsed the statement together with the independent witness. I concluded by writing my details with the cautionary statement as the officer who recorded the statement,” she noted, while further claiming that the independent witness told her that he was a businessman and that he was residing in Banjul.

Asked whether she would recognise the cautionary statement that she recorded if shown to her, she replied in the positive, saying: “My lord, yes I can recognise it because my details are on the statement.” The statement was then shown to her and she recognised it; and then the prosecuting officer applied to tender it as exhibit after no objection from the defence team.

Corporal Manneh added that she also took the voluntary statement of the 1st accused person in the presence of an independent witness, saying: “Upon completion of recording the voluntary statement, the 1st accused person together with the independent witness all endorsed it.”

At this juncture, State Counsel Muhammed Sowe, asked her whether she would recognise the voluntary statement if shown to her. She responded in the positive, thus the document was shown to her; which she recognised. “The voluntary statement was later tendered and admitted as exhibit after no objection from the defence team.”

During cross examination, defence counsel Ida Drammeh asked PW1 as to who determines the charge and PW1 added: “I was asked to charge her with manslaughter which was recommended by the panel of investigators after finishing recording her cautionary statement.”

Further asked as to what she had done with the statement after finishing recording, PW1 replied: “I handed it over to the panel of investigators.”

“Where was the so-called independent witness Babucarr Colley,” asked Ida Drammeh. The witness stated that the independent witness Babucarr Colley was in the office.

“He stays at the office because he is one of the friends of the police that is why he was always there,” Ida Drammeh posited. However, Police Corporal Manneh maintained that the independent witness was not a friend to the police.

Samba Mballow was the second PW2 to testify. He told the court that he obtained the voluntary and the cautionary statements of the 3rd accused Kibili Dambelly. The State counsel, Muhammed Sowe, further tendered the cautionary and voluntary statements after guiding his witness. Both documents were later tendered and admitted as exhibits.

“Have you met Fabakary Kinteh, the independent witness who endorsed the 3rd accused person’s statements,” asked Lawyer Gaye who was representing the 3rd accused person.

The witness PW2 said he never met the independent witness. “In fact, I am telling you that Fabakary Kinteh is a friend to the police and he habitually offers himself to the police in recording of statements,” defence counsel Gaye posited, but the witness said he didn’t know.

“I am putting it to you that most of the statements obtained by the police in your NIA trial were witnessed by the same Fabakary Kinteh,” Gaye added. The PW3 maintained that he had no idea about that.

ASP Jali M.I. Senghore was the 3 PW. He told the court that he obtained the cautionary and voluntary statements of the second accused person Cherno Gaye.

The case was adjourned to today, 5 October 2022 for cross examination by defence counsel, Lawyer Sagarr Jahateh.