Abdoulie G. Dibba
In the ongoing trial of Mustapha Njie, the driver of the taxi vehicle in which Binta Jarju was shot and killed, two of the security personnel who were involved in the chase told the court that all of them fired.
Private Landing Jarju of the Guards Battalion and First Class Baba Leigh Jallow of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) were giving testimony as prosecution witnesses before Magistrate Patrick Gomez of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court yesterday, 31 March, 2015.
Mustapha Njie is charged with two counts of “Disobedience to Lawful Order” and “Rash and Negligent Act Causing Death”, of which he pleaded not guilty.
He had earlier pleaded guilty to two offences namely “Unlicensed Driving” and “Failing to stop when required”.
The accused is represented by Lawyer Edward Gomez,
while the Inspector General of Police is represented by Assistant
Superintendent of Police Mballow.
In his testimony, Private Soldier Landing Jarju told the court that he lives at Tallinding and is a soldier at the State Guard Battalion. He told the Court that he remembered all what had happened on the 7th March at 11pm at night.
He said they were on a joint patrol on that night mounting a vehicle check point at Manjai Kunda/Kotu Highway.
Private Soldier Jarju told the court that he cannot remember the names of his colleagues and number in the patrol team but that one Abdoulie Badjie, of the State Guard Battalion, and Baba Leigh Jallow, a Police Intervention Unit (PIU) officer were part of the team.
Jarju said while they were at the check point, a taxi driver came with high speed and passed the check point and they shouted at him to stop but he resisted. “We fired a warning shot but the driver still failed to comply,” he added.
After that, he said, he and his colleagues followed the taxi with their patrol vehicle and “We overtook him on the left and stopped in front of the taxi but he (the driver) diverted to a side road on the right which was dark and rough.”
Continuing his testimony, he said they then followed the car again. “This time we decided to shoot at the vehicle to disable it and that when the taxi stopped at the flower shrubs we went there,” said the witness.
Private soldier Jarju said when they reached the taxi vehicle they saw inside a lady bleeding and that she was there with a man and the driver.
From there, he said, the Manjai police came and they went to Kairaba police station to give their statements and after which they went about their normal patrol.
The prosecution witness said they aimed at the tyre to burst it and disable the vehicle and that their aim was achieved because the vehicle stopped.
During cross-examination by the defence counsel, Private soldier Jarju old the Court that it is correct that they utilised a pick-up and that they were at the back of the pick-up.
He said it is correct that the three of them were armed and they fired at the vehicle as it was moving.
“Who fired?” asked Counsel Gomez.
In response, the Guards Battalion soldier said “We fired.”
He added that they fired while the vehicle was in motion.
Jarju further told the Court that when the vehicle stopped, they disembarked and went to the vehicle and found the lady lying but does not know where in the vehicle she was lying.
He said it is correct that they were looking for arms and ammunition and people who constitute a security threat to the state.
“Is it not strange that two soldiers and one police armed will just fire and look in a vehicle and left?” asked defence counsel Gomez.
“We checked inside the car, but know nothing about the booth,” responded Jarju.
Defence counsel further asked the prosecution witness whether he was the person who shot and he responded that they all fired.
In his testimony, Baba Leigh Jallow told the Court that he lives in Nema Kunku and that he is a police officer 1st Class attached to the Police Intervention Unit (PIU).
1st Class Jallow said he could remember what happened on the 7th March.
He said on that day, while they were at Manjai/Kotu check point, a taxi came to the check point and failed to stop and they chased him because they do not know what he carried.
He told the court that they followed him and warning shots were given but he failed to stop and they over took him at the left and he diverted to the right in which a shot was given to disable the vehicle.
1st Class Jallow told the Court that Abdoule Badjie, Landing Jarju, Malang Sanneh, the driver, and himself, were in the patrol vehicle.
The prosecution witness said when they were shooting they aimed at the tyres to disable the vehicle and that after the shooting the vehicle was moving until it hit a flower shrub and stopped. He said they went to the vehicle and found a woman inside who was bleeding.
During cross examination by the defence counsel, he asked the witness whether it is correct that their aim was to check for arms and ammunition and people who are a security threat to the state. In response, Jallow said it is correct that the primary duty of a police officers is to protect life and property.
Lawyer Gomez asked the witness whether they made any attempt to
help the lady after they realised what had happened, the witness responded that no one sought for help.
“We checked inside the car but did not open the booth,” said 1st Class Jallow.
At this stage, the case was adjourned till today at 2 pm.