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Forensic Expert Unable to Identify User from Fingerprints on Alleged Murder Weapon

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Ousainou Bojang under police escort -Photot: Kexx

By Landing Ceesay 

Under cross-examination, Francis Jatta, a forensic expert from the Gambia Police Force Criminal Records Unit, testified that the fingerprints found on the alleged murder weapon in Ousainou Bojang’s case could not definitively identify the user of the pistol.

Testifying as the Eighth Prosecution Witness (PW8), Jatta detailed his role at the Criminal Records Office of the Gambia Police Force (GPF), which includes maintaining records of convicted criminals, working as a Crime Scene Investigator, analyzing evidence from crime scenes, and conducting fingerprint analysis.

Jatta revealed the discovery of multiple exhibits both at the crime scene and in Ousainou Bojang’s residence. Ousainou Bojang faces six charges, including the murder of two Police Intervention Unit (PIU) officers, while his elder sister, Amie Bojang, faces a charge of being an accessory after the fact of murder.

“Would you be able to tell the court whether there was any fingerprinting match to ascertain the user of the gun,” Counsel Sillah, the Lawyer representing Amie Bojang asked Francis Jatta. 

“From the pistol, we tried to get fingerprints by putting the gun in a fume chamber, some traces of handle were found on the gun. But those traces were not clear to tell you whose fingerprints it is or to ascertain the user of the gun,” Mr. Jatta responded. 

“Have you conducted a DNA test on the gun,” Counsel Sillah asked again. 

“The pistol was recovered 10 days after the incident, and it was in the open ground. During that time, the weather exposed it to winds. The likely claim we can get is the touch because the pistol was touched. But we could not conduct a DNA test on it,” Mr. Jatta told the court. 

Continuing with the topic of the Alleged Murder Weapon, the Forensic Specialist, Francis Jatta, informed the court that his first encounter with Ousainou Bojang was on September 22, 2023, the day the pistol was retrieved.

Mr. Jatta disclosed to the court that the pistol was discovered in two separate parts.

“So that pistol, how did you find it, did you find it in a piece or pieces?” Counsel Lamin J. Darboe the Lawyer representing Ousainou Bojang asked Mr. Jatta. 

“It was in pieces and the slide cover on top of the gun was detached from the main body of the pistol,” Mr. Jatta told the court. 

The firearm was displayed in court intact and was submitted as evidence in its assembled state.

Attorney LJ Darboe questioned Francis Jatta on the appropriateness of reassembling the firearm after it had been discovered in a disassembled condition.

“No, at the Forensic Office, we arranged them in separate boxes, and it was also sent separately to the military for analysis. It was after their analysis, the gun was assembled together by the military and sent back to us along with the report,” Francis Jatta responded. 

The Forensic Expert told the court that the Army was given the advice to leave the gun as it was but they (the Army) have their rules and that’s why the gun was assembled.

Francis Jatta said the military sent one report for pistol and one report for ammunition. 

“Can you tell the court which portion of the pistol was separated from the main body,” LJ Darboe asked Mr. Jatta. 

“It was the upper slide cover of the pistol that was separated from the main body,” Mr. Jatta told the court. 

The firearm was subsequently passed to Mr. Jatta for a demonstration on how to disassemble the slide cover from the main structure.

Despite his efforts, Mr. Jatta was unable to separate the slide cover from the firearm, attributing his failure to the excessive rust on the pistol.

Following Mr. Jatta’s unsuccessful attempt, the firearm was given back to Counsel LJ Darboe. After a quick examination, Counsel LJ Darboe concluded that there were no detachable parts in the pistol.

“I am putting it to you that there is no slide cover to detach from the actual body of this pistol,” Counsel LJ Darboe said. 

“There is a slide cover on it,” Mr. Jatta insisted.

“As far as you are aware, you sent the gun to the military, and they sent a report. Does the report include just the ammunition or the pistol,” Counsel LJ Darboe asked.  

“It covers the ammunition and the type of weapons that can use that type of ammunition,” Mr. Jatta responded. 

In his testimony, Mr. Jatta verified that they were in direct contact with Officer Salia Gaye from the Anti-Crime Unit concerning the incident.

He informed the court that it was Officer Salia Gaye who retrieved several items from the home of Ousainou Bojang in Brufut.

Mr. Jatta recounted that upon their arrival at the location on September 13, 2023, they were handed two empty cases by an officer from the Anti Crime Unit, rather than their designated liaison officer present there.

Furthermore, he stated that on September 13, 2023, their liaison officer did not collect any items from the crime scene.

“What is your understanding of a live round?” Counsel LJ Darboe asked. 

“Live round is a bullet that can kill. You have different types, there is a rubber bullet also,” Mr. Jatta told the court. 

Counsel LJ Darboe asked for the empty cartridge casings and the unspent bullet to be presented.

Upon examination of the ammunition, Attorney LJ Darboe pointed out to Mr. Jatta that there was a discrepancy between the spent casings and the intact round.

Nonetheless, Mr. Jatta maintained that they were essentially the same, with the sole distinction being that one had been discharged while one remained unused.

“There is no difference here. A complete round is having all the components still attached. That’s the casing and the round. While the other one is used already. 

Mr. Jatta told the court that there was a vehicle at the scene which was destroyed by a bullet. 

“The vehicle was parked at the Sukuta Police Station, and we requested for it to be brought back to the scene for reconstruction and when we were done it was taken back to the Sukuta Police Station. I cannot determine exactly the round that was used, but the car was hit by a bullet,” Mr. Jatta said. 

“It is clear that the 3 bullets were used on Police Officers, one bullet on each of the officers,” Counsel LJ Darboe asked. 

“For that, I don’t know, all that I know is we recovered 3 empty bullet cases,” Mr. Jatta responded. 

“You reconstructed your scene, so you knew where the Police Officers were standing, is that correct?” Counsel LJ Darboe asked. 

“We were not present at the scene. However, based on the information given, we just reconstructed the Scene. So we cannot say where the Police were standing,” Mr. Jatta said. 

Mr. Jatta said It is correct that their reconstruction was placed at a particular location. 

“According to the information, we received, two of the officers fell on the road itself while the other one was off the road where the car was parked,” he said.

“So there were four directions, Sukuta, Airport, Jabang, and Turn Table, where was this vehicle parked? Counsel LJ Darboe asked.  

“If you are from the roundabout itself heading towards the Airport Junctions, that’s where the vehicle was parked close to the roundabout,” Mr. Jatta said. 

Mr. Jatta told the court that there was a sketch plan, and the plan was given to the prosecution. 

Counsel LJ Darboe then applied for the Director of Public Prosecution to provide him with the sketch plan of the Criminal Records Office of the Gambia Police Force. 

The DPP provided Counsel LJ Darboe with the sketch plan. 

“My lord, I am applying to tender a document that is labelled as Crime Scene Report produced by the Crime Scene Management Unit of the Gambia Police Force as an exhibit,” Counsel LJ Darboe applied. 

The DPP said he had no objection to the admissibility of the said sketch plan into evidence. 

Hon. Justice Jaiteh then admitted the document into evidence and marked it as Defence Exhibit Eight, 1-19 pages (D8). 

“Salia Gaye, took two mobile smartphones from the 1st accused (Ousainou Bojang), did he surrender that phone to you?” Counsel LJ Darboe asked. 

“I can’t remember receiving any phone from him off head unless I go through the records,” Mr. Jatta said. 

“I am putting it to you that the only reason that phone is kept away from this case, was because it conclusively made it clear that the 1st accused was not at the scene on that day,” Counsel LJ Darboe said. 

“Since I am not aware of the phone being recovered, I cannot pre-empt an answer, that’s why I say I must go through the records to confirm,” Mr. Jatta responded. 

The case was adjourned to Tuesday for continuation. 

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