By Dawda Faye
Samuel Ferera, a Brazilian forensic expert, on 12 March, 2019, testified in the case involving Yankuba Badjie and other former NIA officers before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the High Court in Banjul.
He said that he became a medical doctor and a forensic pathologist in 2002, noting that he is specialised in forensic genesis and pathology. He disclosed that he is a scientific coordinator of special condition, and he is the director of the Forensic Research Institute.
He adduced that he came to The Gambia on 25 June, last year and this was his second time to come to The Gambia, adding that he was invited to participate in the identification of the human remains of Solo Sandeng, and also three others.
He stated that when he arrived on the first day, he went to the Ministry of Justice and was introduced to the minister and his staff, and after that, he had a meeting with him and his staff. He revealed that he went to the director of Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital.
He told the court that he was taken to the mortuary where they stored the remains of dead bodies, stating further that he was part of a team of forensic experts from South Africa, and their mission was to examine human remains.
He testified that he was to examine and collect human remains, indicating that the human remains he examined were that of Solo Sandeng. He said that he also collected bone samples, disclosing that he collected a tooth. He narrated that he used a device to do so and sealed the remains in a box and labeled it with a number.
He informed the court that he was presented with Solo’s wife, his two daughters and son, adding that he collected blood and saliva samples from them. He went on to say that he put them in a device, closed it and labeled them according to family members.
Mr. Ferera revealed that he took the box to the Ministry of Justice, and in the presence of the minister, he presented the box to one Thomas Gomez, Superintendent of Police. He stated that some weeks later, he received the box in the same stage he left it in The Gambia.
He adduced that the remains were closed, sealed and had the same number, noting that he opened the box and confirmed that they were intact. He said he then started examining the samples for DNA test, further saying that he double-checked every procedure so that the result would be the same.
He told the court that they had to use high technology, disclosing that he used the experience and knowledge he has. He said that they used computers to extract the lineage of the cells. “By using the characteristic of the two daughters and son of Solo Sandeng, we came to the conclusion that the remains were that of Solo Sandeng,” he told the court.
He testified that the report he prepared was with him in the courtroom, adding that there were three signatures on the document. At this juncture, Counsel Mendy applied to tender the report. The defence team objected because they said that the report was scanned.
Counsel Mendy rose and told the court that the report was the original copy, and there was nothing on the document indicating that it was scanned. She argued that it was signed by the witness.
In her ruling, the presiding judge stated that no genuine reason was advanced by the defence for their objection. She then admitted the report.
“From genetic point of view, the remains were that of Solo Sandeng,” Mr. Ferera stated.