By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)
State and Defence Lawyers in Bubacar Keita’s rape trial have shared letters on the 11th of August 2022, concerning the biological sample collection of Baby M and the mother (the alleged victim of rape), with both letters dated 11th August 2022.
Senior State Counsel Alasan Jobe on behalf of the Solicitor General first wrote his reply to Lawyers representing Bob Keita while on the same day, Lawyer Kaddijatou Jallow for the Defence responded to the State.
It can be recalled that on the 9th of August 2022, the Defence wrote to the State indicating their decision not to witness the process of sample collection because it will undermine their appeal at the Gambia Court of Appeal, after filing an appeal against the high court order for the collection of the DNA samples. The Defence in this appeal asked the Court of Appeal to stay the execution of the high court order for the collection of DNA samples pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.
Lawyer Alasan Jobe, in his response to the defense team, said the presence of the Defence at the collection of the samples is based on the Court Order adding that it was not a request from the prosecution.
“Our letter sought to merely inform you of the date and time for collection. Your decision to not comply with said order should therefore be directed to the Court,” Jobe said.
Jobe maintained that the DNA test forms part of the prosecution’s evidence adding that the Defence lawyers are fully aware that by law, the State is under no obligation to involve the defense in the gathering of evidence.
He said the Defence lawyers are aware of their client’s (Bob’s) rights as well as the procedure for challenging evidence at the time of tendering before the courts.
“Our insistence on the Court ordering for the sample collection in the presence of the defense was out of good faith and to promote transparency. We therefore invite you to reconsider your decision to not comply with the High Court’s order to witness the collection of biological samples from the body of the deceased child and his mother,” he said.
Lawyer Kaddijatou Jallow, a junior counsel to Lawyer Lamin S. Camera in her reply acknowledged receipt of their letter via WhatsApp.
“We regret to inform you that our position contained in our letter of the 9th of August 2022 in respect to the collection of DNA samples remains the same,” she said. Lawyer Jallow stated that the Defence will not engage in an argument with the Attorney General’s Chambers on whether their presence is required by a Court Order or not. Also, she said they will not engage in an argument as to whether the prosecution is under obligation to invite the Defence in evidence gathering or not.
“We believe that this is not the time and forum to discuss the legality or otherwise of these assertions. Suffice it to say, when we get to that bridge we will cross it,” she said.
She reiterated that they have filed appeals before the Gambia Court of Appeal against some of the high court orders dated the 7th July 2022, 13th July 2022, and 27th July 2022 respectively. She said there is an application for the stay of execution of the high court for the collection of the DNA samples pending the hearing and determination of the appeal, and that the prosecution was served.
In another development, Bob Keita was on Friday 12th August 2022, escorted to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) purposefully to witness the sample collection of Baby M and her mother. He was under the escort of two prison wardens and a medic from the prisons. Before leaving Mile 2, Bob indicated that he does not want to go to the hospital because he did not want to participate in the process. He pointed out that his lawyers have written to the prosecution indicating that they are following up with their appeal before the Gambia Court of Appeal. He stopped at the mortuary of the EFSTH and refused to enter the hospital. The medic went in and informed the people inside that Bob Keita has refused to enter the hospital indicating that his lawyers have filed an appeal against the court order and he is waiting for the outcome of the case.
Lawyer Alasan Jobe for the prosecution, the clerk of the Bundung High Court, and the Doctor who was supposed to do the sample collection were the people inside.
When he came out, Lawyer Alasan Jobe was told by Bob Keita, the accused person, that he has no business with him. He told Lawyer Jobe that his lawyers have already communicated their position to him. The medic went inside and spent some time there. Then the Doctor came out also in an attempt to convince Bob who maintained his position that he does not want to appear and was later transported back to Mile 2.