By Landing Ceesay
Deputy Superintendent of Police Foday Conta (PW1), the first prosecution witness in the Kumba Sinyan (the accused) murder trial, was cross-examined at the High Court of the Gambia today, November 18, 2022.
Kumba Sinyan, was earlier this week, charged with the murder of one Lamarana Jallow, contrary to section 187 of Criminal Code Cap: 10:01 Revised Laws of the Gambia 2009.
Prosecutors alleged that the suspect on or about the 14th of September 2022 at The Friendship Hostel in Bakau, with malice aforethought, caused the death of one Lamarana Jallow by cutting his stomach with an object and thereby committed an offence punishable with death under section 188 of the Criminal Code Cap of the Laws of the Gambia 2009.Kumba Sinyan has pleaded not guilty to the charge proffered against her in the first hearing before Justice Sidi Jobarteh. The prosecution thereafter called to the stand their first witness (PW1), Deputy Superintendent of Police, Foday Conta, who led the team that arrested Kumba Sinyan at her home in Bakau New Town on the night of the murder.
DS Foday Conta (PW1) who completed his testimony for the prosecution on the last adjourned date was cross-examined at today’s hearing by Mrs. S. Twum, lawyer representing Kumba Sinyan (the accused).
During the Cross-Examination, PW1 told the Court that Kumba Sinyan’s case is not the first murder case he investigated since he joined the police force in January 2011. The witness testified that he directly investigated one murder case and played a supporting role for other Police Officers investigating other murder cases.
Defence Counsel Mrs Twum asked PW1 whether he is aware that a formal criminal complaint was lodged at the Bakau Police Station before the incident; to which the witness answered in the affirmative.
PW1 told the court that Immediately after he arrived with his men at the hostel, they went straight to the reception desk, and spoke to a man who identified himself as an employee of the hostel. PW1 informed the court that he doesn’t know the employee’s name, but understands he is one of the receptionists at the hostel.
Counsel Twum asked the witness whether Lamarana was dead or alive when he found the body.
“Your lordship, I wouldn’t know whether the body was alive or dead,” the witness responded.
The witness further testified that he entered the room With SI Banja and SI Badgie and the other Officers present were asked to stay outside.
“In your evidence in chief, you said the CRO brought protective gear. The protective gears that the CRO brought were for whom? Counsel Twum asked the witness.
“It was brought for anyone at the scene, especially the police officers who are involved in evidence collection,” the witness responded.
The witness told the court that there was not enough CCTV recording at the hostel that shows whether Lamarana or Kumba occupied room 111.
In response to a question posed to him, PW1 said they didn’t tell Kumba Sinyan the reason for her arrest when they first encountered her at her home because she was nervous and looked sickly.
“Are you aware that, according to the law, you should tell her?” Counsel Twum asked the witness?
“Yes, I do. However, after she was arrested the only thing, I told her was that I am a police officer, and I expect you to trust me as a police officer,” the witness responded.
PW1 said he searched Kumba’s phone because she voluntarily gave it to him and voluntarily unlocked it.
Counsel Twum asked PW1 whether he cautioned Kumba upon her arrest.
“Yes, I cautioned her in their house before leaving. The reason for not letting her know what the crime was is that they (Kumba and her aunt) appealed to me that they have a sick woman in the house. That, Kumba’s grandmother was sick” the witness answered.
“What was responsible for your U-turn to the Hostel instead of the Police Station as you told Kumba,”? Counsel Twum asked PW1
“Is to confront the suspect with the body,” the witness responded.”I am putting it to you that the accused person never consented to it. You forced her” Counsel Twum put it to the witness.
“She wouldn’t have a choice because she was under-arrest,” the witness responded.
Counsel Twum then told the witness that when you arrest someone, that person should be taken straight to the police station.
The witness, however, demurred and told the court that it depends on the circumstances of the matter.
“I am putting it to you, that was an unlawful act,” Counsel Twum told the witness.
“I will stick with my words that what we did was lawful,” the witness responded.Counsel Twum told the witness his statement was different from the testimony he gave to the Court.
The witness insisted that the statement he wrote on the day of the incident is the same as the testimony he gave to the court.
“I am putting it to you that you did not say you found a cloth in Lama’s mouth in your statement,” counsel Twum put it to the witness.
“Yes, I did not” the witness responded.
Counsel Twum then asked the witness what happened after they left the Hostel.The witness said they went straight to the Police Station right after they left the Hostel.
“I am putting it to you that after you left the stadium you went back to the accused person’s house to search her house,” Counsel Twum put it to the witness.
“When we left Kumba’s house, we went to the stadium, from there we went to the police stadium. Other police officers went back to Kumba’s house, but I was not there,” the witness told the court.
“I am putting it to you that you are contradicting yourself,” Counsel Twum told the witness in her summation for the day.
At this point, Justice Sidi K. Jobarteh adjourned the case to the 5th of December 2022 for continuation after the state informed the court that they could not provide another witness for the day.