By Landing Ceesay & Fatou Sillah
The Defense Lawyer in Kumba Sinyan’s murder trial, Counsel Sagar Cecilia, said on the night of Momodou Lamarana Jallow’s death, her client was defending herself.
Counsel Sagar said this while cross-examining Alhagie Sonko, fifth Prosecution Witness (PW5), a resident of Brusubi, and roommate of the late Lamarana Jallow.
Kumba Sinyan is charged with murder 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 offense punishable with death under section 188 of the Criminal Code Cap of the Laws of the Gambia 2009.
Under cross-examination, the prosecution witness, Alhagie Sonko, told the court that he knew the deceased (Lamarana) since he was 8 years old, and he is aware of his relationship with the defendant.
The witness, responding to a question from the defence counsel, testified that he knew of the defendant and deceased’s relationship for almost four years, but couldn’t tell the court what year the relationship started.
In response to defence counsel’s query of whether it will be a surprise to him to know that the defendant and the late Lamarana’s relationship lasted for 2 years, the prosecution witness stuck to his answer that he knew of their relationship for almost four years.
“All I know is that they have been together for almost 4 years. Because they were together since the Trade Fair was in Bakau; up to the time it moved to Brusubi Turntable,” the witness responded to the defense counsel.
Counsel Sagar asked the witness whether he is aware of any altercation between the accused person and the deceased. In response, PW5 told the court that he is not aware of any, except for what the deceased told him about the defendant sometimes taking his phone and calling his female contacts.
Continuing her cross-examination, the defence counsel asked the witness if he remembered any physical altercation between her client and the deceased. The witness responded that he was not aware of any except for the day that Kumba broke a bottle resulting in the late Lamarana’s body sustaining an injury.
“Do they usually have problems.”? Counsel Sagar asked the witness, to which he responded, “That’s what Lama (the deceased) always complained to me about,”
Following her line of questioning into their relationship, Counsel Sagar asked the witness if Lama ever cheated on Kumba Sinyan during their relationship; with the witness responding that he was not aware of it.
“I am putting it to you that you are aware of it and because you are close to him (Lamarana) that’s why you are always backing him,” Counsel Sagar pushed the witness.
“I am not aware of that” the witness responded.
The defence counsel continued with her adversarial line of questioning when she put it to the witness that Lama both physically assaulted and sexually abused her client, with the witness responding that he was not aware of that;
“I am not aware of that, I was sleeping and because of the noise, I woke up that’s the time I found a bottle in Kumba Sinyan’s hand while Lama was holding her hands,” the witness told the court.
“I am putting it to you that while you were sleeping, the deceased was physically and sexually attacking the accused,” Counsel Sagar told the witness.
“I am not aware of that and when I woke up I did not see them in that manner,” the witness responded.
Prodding the witness further, Counsel Sagar asked the witness again what he found Lamarana and Kumba Sinyan doing when he woke up from sleep, prompting the presiding judge, Justice Sidi K. Jobarteh to intervene, asking the defense counsel where she is heading with her line of questioning. Defence counsel told Justice Jobarteh that she was laying a foundation for her question, thereby soliciting a mild scolding from the judge.
“You are dragging the case by asking questions he answered over and over. I am not even writing because you are repeating the same questions that he answered already,” Justice Jobarteh told the defence counsel.
The defense counsel insisted that she was laying the foundation for her questions.
“I will only allow questions that are relevant to the case and questions that are not answered,” Justice Jobarteh told the defense Counsel and then allowed her to continue with her cross-examination.
Continuing her cross-examination, Counsel Sagar told the witness that when her client (Kumba Sinyan) was fighting with Lamarana (the deceased), the witness pushed the deceased out of the house because he was attacking the accused person.
“No, Kumba was having a bottle, that’s why I push Lama out of the house. Because Lama (the deceased) was injured, and I was also injured. But I did not see Lama attacking Kumba,” the witness responded.
“I am putting it to you that after you woke up. You found the deceased (Lamarana) beating Kumba Sinyan and you told him to stop,” Counsel Sagar told the witness. In response, the witness told the court that Lama was not beating the defendant, instead, he was only holding her hands because she had a bottle.
Counsel Sagar then asked the witness whether he heard the deceased insulting Kumba Sinyan, to which he answered in the negative.
“I am putting it to you that Lama (the deceased) was insulting the accused person. When the deceased was beating Kumba, he was punching the accused in her stomach when she was actually pregnant,” Counsel Sagar told the witness.
“No, I am not aware,” the witness responded.
“I am putting it to you that she was pregnant and that was the pregnancy, Lama (the deceased) wanted the accused person to abort, and she refused. That’s why he beat her up,” Counsel Sagar said.
The witness Alhagie Sonko who was in the same room with the late Lamarana Jallow told Counsel Sagar that he is not aware of that.
“I am putting it to you that because of that beating by the deceased, it resulted in the accused person’s miscarriage,” Counsel Sagar said.
The witness told the court that he is not aware of that.
Counsel Sagar; “I am putting it to you that the picture you are trying to paint is that Kumba was the one attacking Lama.”
The witness: “What picture.?” Looking confused. This prompted the Judge to interject and asked the defence counsel to reframe her question since the witness didn’t understand what she meant.
Counsel Sagar continues her cross-examination by telling the witness, “You are not a witness of truth. Your testimony is an afterthought and things you were told to say here.”
“All that I said here is what I witnessed.” the witness responded.
“I am putting it to you that the accused person (Kumba Sinyan) was all along defending herself from the deceased (Lamarana). Because he always physically and sexually abused her,” Counsel Sagar told the witness.
The witness told the defense counsel he is not aware of the deceased abusing the defendant.
“I am putting it to you that on the night of the incident that was the same thing the accused person was doing to defend herself from the deceased,” Counsel Sagar said.
“The witness was not at the alleged incident, and he did not say anything about the alleged incident,” Justice Jobarteh told the defense counsel.
The case was adjourned to the 26th of February 2023 at 12 mid-day for continuation.