At exactly 8:05am the next morning, Maria and I took a cab to Rose’s apartment. I had called her on the phone and told her to prepare for court. She was drinking yogurt when we arrived. We had to wait for her for another 30 minutes before she finished everything she was doing; then we went to court.
Due to the little delay by Rose, we were about four minutes late. The court was already in session when the door was opened for us. We had apologized and took our seats.
Sharon and Peace were seated together in the far right; i believed that the Swedish authorities actually took them up in order to make sure they got some information from them. It wasn’t my business anyway since all i wanted was for them to testify that it was Miss Joy who brought them to Europe.
Some two strange people had come from Italy to plead and give positive remarks about Aunty Joy and how gentle and humble she has been since she came to Italy. The Defending Lawyer was asking them questions about how and how long they knew Joy and if she had been in a criminal case before. The witnesses were doing a good job at painting Joy with white colours. I was almost tempted to jump up and stop them but i feared that the court could hold me in contempt and detain or deport me back to Paris; therefore i sat one place and boiled. I was also able to hold myself because i believed that if they eventually talked themselves into releasing her, I will still go after her.
“What does Miss Joy do for a living in Italy?” The prosecuting lawyer asked when it was his turn to cross examine the two witnesses.
There was only one of them in the witness box now; a middle aged woman who was apparently another Italian Mama.
“She is a business woman” the woman answered.
“What kind of business?” The lawyer queried.
The woman claimed that Miss Joy imported African food items and distributed to local stores All over Italy. It must have been a line of lies they have used on several occasions down there in Italy because i believed they ran into troubles every now and then. I was also sure that they must have collaborated with the local Afroshop owners in Italy who will confirm that Aunty Joy supplied them with such things.
I could see some tiny hope on Miss Joy’s face from where i was.
Bonaventure and the other man were not there in court and i wondered if they were already released.
“Are you saying that Miss Joy can produce tax receipts for those items she supplied if we demand for it?” That was our lawyer.
“I don’t know sir, i can’t answer that for her” the woman responded.
“As her friend, can you give us the names of the shops she supplied the food items?” The lawyer asked.
“Objection my lord, my learned counsel here is asking irrelevant questions” the defending lawyer interrupted.
The Judged directed our lawyer to deviate from such questions.
The questioning of the two witnesses took more than 40 minutes before Sharon and Peace were finally called to testify against their Aunty. Their Testimonies were going to be very delicate because i didn’t know what the prosecuting lawyer told them before the court. I didn’t know where they were kept and surprisingly for my standards, i didn’t ask. I had just believed what the Cops told me about sending them to a kind of juvenile center where they were supposed to be counseled. I had also ignored them because i had hoped that the whole circumstances could produce resident permits for them.
Before they were brought down from Lulea, i had told them that the government could sympathize with them and did something good for them if they were able to make their conditions look worse that it was.
The reality was that they were both teenage girls irrespective of the part of the World they came from.
Our lawyer introduced Sharon to the stands first. She was asked the language she preferred and she naturally chose English. She was asked for her age and name and Country of Origin. There were little complications when she was asked for the Country of origin because they had both told the asylum authorities that they came from Sudan but when she was asked her country of origin in the court, she said she was Nigerian. It made me believe that the Prosecuting lawyer had managed to prepare them for the occasion. It would have been bad for our case if she had mentioned that she was Sudanese because it would have been difficult to prove that Aunty Joy brought them from Nigeria for prostitution.
Sharon was asked when she came to Europe and she told them. She was asked how she came to Europe and she narrated how Aunty Joy met them and brought them to Italy.
After her, Peace was called and she collaborated Sharon’s story.
After their testimonies, the court went for recess. It was an opportunity for me to speak with the girls again. They said they were kept in a government juvenile building where they were actually counseled. They also told me that the lawyer visited them three times in the past one week.
“They promised to give us resident permit if we tell them what Aunty Joy did in Italy; so we told them” Peace said.
They asked for Blessing and Angel and i told them that they were on their way to the UK. They also chatted with Maria and Rose before the session resumed.
When we returned to the courtroom, the Judge called the two lawyers and spoke to them in low tones. I couldn’t hear what they were saying and even if i did, i wouldn’t have understood since it was on local language.
When they finished, the Judge called out Rose and declared that she be given a legal resident status from her temporal asylum card. It meant that Rose can start traveling all over Sweden without restrictions. It also meant that the process of eventually giving her a permanent resident permit has been initiated.
It was such a good news for our group and even if they eventually released Aunty Joy, i would still have something to hold on to about the whole thing. I was really thinking about what to do for Rose after everything
” The man of knowledge must
be able not only to love his
enemies but also to hate his