A Gambian police officer testified this week in the trial of about 18 men and two women facing charges of conspiracy and “unnatural offenses” for their roles in an alleged “homosexual dance” on April 6.
The trial resumed June 14 after nearly a two-month delay. Police officer Pa Amadou Sowe testified that his commanding officer, Sollo Mbye, informed him of a report that a group of suspected homosexuals were partying at the Elite Fitness Center, the Gambian newspaper The Point reported.
Two colleagues, Abdoulie Sowe and Abdoulie Dibba, entered the premises, at Kololi village about 18 kilometers outside Banjul, to observe and photograph the scene, he said. He watched from outside, heard drumming coming from the party and saw many boys inside, including the defendants, dressed like women, he testified.
He testified that he saw defendant Kebba Ceesay arguing with Abdoulie Sowe and trying to convince him to delete the photos.
Ceesay and a friend were arrested, at which point police called for reinforcements, he said.
Seventeen boys and three girls were arrested and charged, he said. (That number differs from the previous account of the case, which specified 18 males and two females.)
He testified that 17 boys and 13 girls were arrested, but 10 of the 13 girls were released without being charged, according to the Daily Observer.
Defendants’ bags contained clothes and women’s cosmetics, he said.
They told police that they were invited to the party by Ceesay, Pa Amadou Sowe said.
A further witness, “Sergeant 1841 Lamin Drammeh,” testified that when he arrived at the scene, everyone was running away, the Daily Observer reported. He said police recovered bags containing makeup and “women appearances.”
In the previous proceedings in the case, on April 19, police detective Abdoulie Sowe testified that he had been dispatched by his superiors “to go to the tourist area where ‘some group of people alleged to be homosexuals’ were organizing a program.’’
In the bar at the Elite Fitness Center in Kololi where the dancing program was taking place, he testified, he was surprised to see “the accused before me dressed as female, dancing and moving as women. I then used my digital camera and took pictures of the scene.’’
Sowe said he could not identify all the suspects because all of them had dressed like women, The Point reported.
The hearing is scheduled to resume June 28, the Daily Observer reported.
Under Gambian law, homosexual activities are punishable by a 14-year prison term, but the defendants in this case do not face that charge.
(This post was revised June 18 to include the additional reporting from the Daily Observer.)
- Dancing in Gambia: 18 gays, 2 lesbians face felony charges (76crimes.com)
- 40 days in jail without trial for 20 in ‘homosexual dance’ (76crimes.com)
- Gambia delays trial of 20 jailed for ‘homosexual’ dance (76crimes.com)
- New court date for 20 arrested after ‘homosexual dance’ (76crimes.com)
- 18 men in Gambia face homosexuality charges (76crimes.com)
- Gambia: No Room for Gays & Lesbians (turcanin.wordpress.com)