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City of Banjul
Sunday, October 1, 2023

Due process

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During the course of last week, an unprecedented incident occurred in the Gambia. An armed assailant cowardly opened fire on officers of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) killing two and injuring a third. The alleged attacker was said to have fled the scene but someone was later arrested in connection to the shooting in the Casamance region of Senegal.

Since then, pictures of the alleged killer have gone viral on social media and interviews of him and some of his relatives have been aired continuously on many platforms. A press conference was also held by the Gambia Police Force and the National Security Adviser in which information about the arrestee was shared with the public.

This has been the hot topic everywhere in the country ever since and there is hardly anybody in the country who hasn’t heard of the alleged killer’s name or seen his photo. It has been revealed that six other individuals have been arrested in connection to the shooting. Indeed some people have already given it political dimensions despite the fact that the investigation is still ongoing.

Many people have shared their ‘expert’ opinions on the matter, each analyst giving it a new twist to suit certain narratives. Of course, there have been voices of concern raised in different quarters on the potential implications of this media hype on the trial when it reaches that stage.

When the whole population is made to believe that the alleged killer is a certain individual, it has the potential of making a trial that much more difficult. It is not even farfetched to say that if the arrestee is innocent then the real killer may have the opportunity to escape. That is why it is advisable to be cautious in matters that are still under investigation. In other words, it will be wrong to jump the gun. 

According to the laws of this country, suspects are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty by a competent court of law. This has not happened yet as the suspect(s) has just been arrested and investigations as to the motive(s) are still going on. The alleged killer is yet to be arraigned before a court of law.

A thorough investigation should reveal whether the alleged killer was working alone; whether he did it for ideological or political reasons, and what is the endgame, if any. This will then determine the culpability of the suspect and that of any other individual who may be found wanting in connection to these killings.

Due process must therefore be followed at all times to ensure that whatever evidence is gathered is preserved and presented to the courts in the manner that it is supposed to be. As the law has separated roles in such cases, each institution should endeavor to remain on their lane to avoid compromising the court’s ability to do their job in a way that is beyond reproach.

Everyone is hereby urged to exercise caution and restraint to avoid speculations which may jeopardize the case and risk making the trial unfair.  

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