Four witnesses have testified in the criminal case involving Alkalo Lamin B. Jarju and twelve others before Principal Magistrate Dayoh M. Small Dago of the Brikama Magistrate’s Court with allegations of torture and assault of accused persons in some of the testimonies.
When the matter was called, the State was represented by Chief Inspector Bubacar Camara, while Lawyer Borry S. Touray appeared for all the accused persons.
In his testimony, Mr. Burama Badjie, the fourth accused person from Babylon and also the seventh defence witness (DW 7) told the court that his occupation is carpentry. He said he does not know all the accused persons before their detention; that it was only Alkalo Lamin Jarju and Ebrima Gassama that he knew before.
“On the 13th of August, 2013, when I was coming from the farm to take bath at home, I saw many vehicles parking inside the “Alkalos” compound and I was curious to know what was happening there. When I visited the place, I met so many security officers there including the police, PIU officers and soldiers. I was called by one soldier who told me to board one of the waiting vehicles and when I asked him why, he insisted that I should comply and he pointed his gun at me and added that it is a Presidential order. That was how I was arrested,” testified Badjie.
He said while the convoy of vehicles started moving towards Kombo Kerewan, it stopped and the first accused (Jarju) was seen being taken out of the vehicle and subjected to serious beating until his head was injured. He said this was done by a group of security officers on the command of one officer Jagne who was the Operation Commander.
He adduced that they were later taken to Holgam in Kanifing where they were detained and a photo of each of them was obtained before they were parked in a one man cell.
He said he did not conspire with anyone to cut or burn any cashew tree in the said land or any other land in his lifetime. He said it is mere allegation which is unfounded.
Under cross examination, Badjie denied conspiring with anyone to commit such offence.
The second witness to testify introduced himself as Amadou Lamin Jallow, also from Babylon. He is the eight defence witness in the trial. He said he is a graduate from Kunta Kinteh Junior and Senior Technical School in Brikama. He said he was detained since then.
Mr. Jallow explained that he had a land dispute with one Alieu Badara Ceesay in March, 2013 when he was digging to put concrete on the foundation of a building on a land that someone bought from ‘Alkalo’ Jarju.
He told the court that Badara Ceesay had threatened to report him to the police station. He said Ceesay told him that the location of the said land is within the area under his control and that he is entitled to selling any piece of land located within 500 meters from where they are. He said the police came to arrest him at the said place and took him to Yundum police station where he gave a statement. He said since then, he did not hear anything about the case until he was called one day at the Brikama Magistrate’s court regarding the matter.
“When he came with a group of police officers, I was seriously assaulted. I was chopped off with cutlass and I was seriously wounded. I even have that medical certificate with me at home,” said Jallow.
The witnessed said when they were at the Brikama Magistrate’s Court, the case did not proceed. He said he met the group of 12 men, his co-accused persons, at Holgam. “The policeman asked me what case brought me there and I told him I am from Babylon and he further asked me whether I know ‘Alkalo’ Jarju. I responded in the positive. The police prosecutor Camara then asked me to join the others. I asked how I could join the others when the case that brought me there was not called. He told me to join them and which I later did. As we stayed there until the case was mentioned, the Magistrate called out all the names on the list, but did not mention mine. The Magistrate then asked me to sit down because I was not part of the list,” said DW8.
The witness said he has never been part of any group that conspired to commit any offence anywhere. He said he did not also conspire with anyone to cut 275 cashew trees on Francis Mendy’s farm in Babylon. He said he came to know many of his co accused persons during their time in detention.
Under cross examination, Jallow denied any wrong doing.
Mr. Lamin Fatty, alias Chancharang, a musician, is the ninth defence witness (DW9). When he was asked to stand in the witness box, the prosecutor objected that he should not give testimony because he has been attending previous cases. He said he feared that his evidence may not be independent.
Counsel Touray asked the court to hear from the witness as his testimony would have nothing to do with any laid evidence in the court. He said his testimony would be confined to a very narrow compact that has nothing to do with the evidence that was buttressed before in the court, adding that if that is to happen, the Magistrate can go ahead to expunge the evidence.
In his ruling, the trial Magistrate upheld the defence’s application on the condition stated by the defence.
Continuing his testimony, Fatty told the court that Saikou Drammeh is the youngest child of his mother. He said Saikou lives in Casamance where he is attending University and was on holiday.
“On his fourth day at the place, I left him in the compound and went to Senegambia area. I received a phone call around 9am from one police officer who informed me that Saikou is arrested and detained at Holgam. He told me that my brother was asking for food as he was hungry,” said the witness.
Mr. Fatty, under cross examination, said he did not know why his brother was arrested because he was never told. He said he was just informed that the brother was arrested and was at Holgam. He however denied that it cannot be true that his brother has conspired with anyone to either cut or burn 275 cashew trees.
Mr. Baba Gaye, the tenth defence witness (DW10), who is a student of Nusrat Senior Secondary School and resides in Babylon, said he was arrested on the 13th August, 2013. He said he was arrested in the street while on his way to visit a friend. He said he met up with a large number of security personnel from different outfits. He said he was called and asked his name and place of residence and which he gave them.
“They said they wanted to screen me. I said okay and they did. They did not find any illegal thing on me. I thought I was going to be left free but they again asked me to come as they were instructed by officer Jagne to get me on board the vehicle. I asked them what happened and what did I do and they responded that they were acting on presidential orders. I told them that I did nothing and they slapped me on my face and forced me to board the vehicle. This was how I was arrested,” he told the court.
The tenth defence witness told the court that they were taken to the compound of ‘Alkalo’ Jarju where they spent few minutes. He said Burama Badjie was arrested there. He said he was not part of any group that cut or burn cashew trees in the farm belonging to Francis Mendy or any other person.
At this juncture, the matter was adjourned to Thursday, 7th August, 2014.