Gambia: CORPSE FROM POLICE CUSTODY LAID TO REST Police Promise To Do Thorough Investigation

Lamin Kruballay

The body of Lamin Krubally, a 34 year old man who was found dead in a police cell on Wednesday 12 July 2017, was laid to rest yesterday 17 July at the Nemakunku cemetery after a well-attended funeral service conducted in his honour.

By Mustapha Jallow

The residence of the deceased in Nema Kunku was filled with family members, friends, neighbours, senior military officers and onlookers who appeared in a somber mood, both men and women were seen openly weeping and wailing because of the circumstance of his death.

The corpse was released yesterday soon after a post mortem was conducted in the absence of family members at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul. It was then taken by a military ambulance to the deceased’s family home in Nema Kunku. A funeral service was conducted at Nema Kunku and he was later laid to rest at the Nema Kunku cemetery.

The wife of the deceased, Mrs. Rohey Jarju, a devastated mother of two, who was overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, said that she is demanding answers from the authorities after her husband died in police custody.

"This is the most painful moment I have ever encountered; I really lost someone who is very supportive to me, our young children and his family relatives. We don’t know what happened at the station and of course we want to know," she said.

"Now that he is gone who will pay the house rent and other needs for my children as I’m no longer working?" she cried.

Lamin’s brother Mr Faal said he was not allowed to enter the room where the post mortem examination was to take place. “I was there waiting for a while then the Doctor arrived and we went with him and Lamin was removed from the ice and taken for postmortem to ascertain what caused his death while under detention. After putting Lamin in the postmortem room, the Doctor asked us (the family) to go out and allow them to do their work; if they are done they will call us. I complied and went away," he said.

He said they were only given the death certificate. He added that they were then asked to go home until next week and if they are ready with their work, the postmortem documents would be sent to the IGP’s office, the Interior Ministry and the EFSTH hospital.

When again contacted the Police spokesperson, Inspector Foday Conta who said the narration of people’s comments suggest that he was killed by the police. “Of course you did not mention that. So it is better for the police to make the clarification there, because many think that he was killed by the police."

According to him, the deceased was involved in a fight with one Lamarana Jallow and both of them were injured. He said Medical examination revealed that Lamarana Jallow sustained serious injuries while Lamin Krubally sustained minor injuries. So the police charged Lamin and released Lamarana. He however added that there is a claim that Lamin was hitting himself against the wall which led to his death before the police could save him.

"So before the police got inside the cell, he collapsed, then the police escorted him to the hospital and before reaching [there], this is where  he died," he said.

"So today, this evening we just have the post-mortem result that the cause of his dead was as a result of injury on the skull, which could have been the result of hitting his head on the wall. That was the cause of the death by the medical report. So this is how it happened and the police are using that to prepare a report and other statements to further investigate the matter properly,” he said.

The PRO added that when Krubally was confirmed dead, the police re-arrested  Lamarana and detained him at Major Crime Unit at the Police headquarters in Banjul, where he would be until the investigative results come out.

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Foroyaa Newspaper, 18.07.2017

The coalition promised to adhere to the four fundamental pillars of governance, that is, democracy, the rule of law, respect for fundamental rights and good governance.

The right to life is the alpha and omega of fundamental rights; without life no other right could be safeguarded. Hence when life is lost in the hands of the state, no stone should be left unturned to find out the cause of death so as to prevent recurrence.

The Gambian law is not silent on what should be done if a person dies in police custody. It states in section 6(1) of the Coroners Act:

“When any person dies while in the custody of the police or of a prison officer or in prison ….. the police officer or the prison officer or any other person having the custody or charge of the deceased person at the time of his death shall immediately give notice of the death to the nearest Coroner and … such Coroner shall hold an inquiry into the cause of such death……”

Such Coroner shall exercise all the powers conferred by the Criminal Procedure Code upon a magistrate holding a preliminary inquiry.

What should happen at the end of the enquiry?

According to section 9 subsection (3),

“If at the termination of the inquiry the Coroner is of the opinion that an offence has been committed by some person or persons unknown, he shall record his opinion accordingly.”

However, subsection (4) of this section holds that “If at the termination of the inquiry the Coroner is of the opinion that no offence has been committed, he shall record his opinion accordingly.”

Then, “…. the Coroner shall forthwith transmit the proceedings or a certified copy thereof to the Chief Justice.”

Section 11 gives the Chief Justice power to order an inquest, direct any inquest to be reopened, quash the verdict in any inquest or quash any inquest.

A Coroner on the other hand has power to commit for trial before the high court when a person is brought before him/her charged with murder, manslaughter or infanticide.

It is therefore important for the authorities under the Barrow administration to adhere to the dictates of the law. A Coroner’s Inquest to look into the death of Lamin Krubally is urgent under the new political dispensation, which aims to adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability in state administration.

Everybody is watching. History is writing. Posterity will take stock. The future will tell.

The PRO added that when Krubally was confirmed dead, the police re-arrested  Lamarana and detained him at Major Crime Unit at the Police headquarters in Banjul, where he would be until the investigative results come out.