By Aramata Jatta
In today’s recap of the week at the TRRC, you will be reading a little more detail than the usual new writes ups of the revelations at the TRRC. Our columnist and reporter Aramata Jatta is taking you through the detail happenings at the TRRC. Relaxed and read and enjoy the week end.
In fulfillment of its mandate to uncover the truth regarding the 22 years of right abuses and violations of the Yaya Jammeh’s APRC regime, the Truth, Reconcilliation and Reparation Commission on the 18th January 2019, visited the maximum security wing at the mile 2 central prison in Banjul.
This delegation was headed by head of commission TRRC, and its legal team.
It could be recalled that several military personnel who served in the Junta of the 1994, explained at the TRRC, proceedings on the state of conditions at the mile 2 central prisons. Witnesses also disclosed that the food at the said prison in 1994 was not fit for human consumption.
It is in these regard that the TRRC, embarked on a fact finding mission to enable them inspect and see for themselves, the conditions of the jailed and tortured officials of the junta and also enable them verify information’s surrounding the prisons and its conditions.
Ansumana Manneh Director of prison took the commissioners on a conducted tour of the prison such as security wing no: 4, 5 and 1, the main cell yard, the remand wing, toilets and staff quarters. The commissioner implore on the TRRC, for prison to be reformed.
Adding that the conditions at the central prison need to be changed for the better. He said security wing no: 1 consist of 12 cells, which was built by the colonialist and the cells solitary confinement is 3 by 2 meters.
After these visit to the central prison more witnesses continue to appear before the Commission at Dunes Hotel in Senegambia, appearing before the commission as the eight witness
Bubacarr Jatta former prison paramedic officer on Tuesday appeared before the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) to give his statement on conditions of the mile 2 prison as well as give recommendations.
Jatta who is now commissioner of Janjanbureh prison told the TRRC commission that the overcrowding of inmates in prison cells course homosexual activities between the inmates. “Homosexual activities take place in prison” he said.
He revealed to the commission that such acts of sex happen in the toilets during the night at the central prison.
Jatta said the condition of the prison is very poor, while calling on Gambia Prison Service to work on the rehabilitation and the formation of the prisoncells.
Commissioner Jatta added that the prison is not even fit for animal habitable much more for human beings who are from the society. “The prison should be condemned”.
He also said the poor wages also courses prison officers to be convicted “we sacrifice to be there with our poor salaries” he said.
Continuing his testimony Jatta said he was the one who attended to early detainees of the July 22, 1994 coup leaders.
He told the TRRC that the detainees of the early coup were denied access to hospital. Thus, their only medical help was coming from the prison services.
Jatta asserted that the September 1994 detainees at Mile 2 were Pa Sallah, Samsideen Sarr, Kebba Ceesay including Ebrima Chongan, Mamat Cham and RSM Jeng, were subjected to torture leaving them serious injuries.
The witness further said Ebrima Chongan sustained multiple injuries on his head and back. Whilst RSM Jeng sustained serious and complicated injuries.
The witness said these soldiers were taken out at one time, beaten and then a volley of gun fire was heard. He said the soldiers who were allegedly tortured then came back to the other prisoners and told them, they are to be executed next.
Jatta said this has caused serious trauma in some of these soldiers, but particularly worse was Captain Samsideen Sarr who was traumatized and even confused. He added that for him he believes that maybe Samsideen Sarr was thinking that the next person to be executed was him.
Mr. Jatta further outline that the detainees were made to believe that Ebrima Chongan, Mamat O. Cham and RSM Jeng were killed. Which he said has caused a lot of damage on them. Samsideen Sarr and Kebba Ceesay’s (trauma) were very visible. Others too were traumatized. But for Pa Sallah Jagne and Captain Kambi, they were not shaken, Jatta alluded.
Jatta also told the TRRC that he has attended to several other people including Alpha Bah, a survivor of November 11, who was later involved in Kartong attack.
He said Bah was vomiting blood at the time he was being hospitalized. Jatta said Bah later told him of November 11 and how they escaped death while others like Basiru Barrow were executed.
The witness said he even treated Sadibou Hydara and Sanna Sabally following their detention and torture from an alleged torture by soldiers.
Earlie on, Abubacarr Sulayman Jeng also appeared before the commission highlighting his endurances while in prison and stating the living condition of prisoners in their cells likewise what occurred on the 6th of September 1994.
Former police Cadet Officer Abubacar Sulayman Jeng while giving his testimony told the commission that he was arrested and detained for 18 months under horrible cell conditions at Mile 2; cell number 25/26
“My cell was full of rats and other insects with only a bare plank of wood” He told the TRRC that on arrival at Mile 2 prison he was stripped off his cloths in exchange for prison clothes .Jeng told the TRRC that his personal belongings were all taken from him and that he was not given a bed, just bare planks which he used as bed.
He said on the 6th September, 1994 some group of soldiers led by the leaders of the Junta except Yahya Jammeh came to their cells and move some of them away to other detention locations. Former Police soldier said the night of the 6th September was like a hell for them the prisoners under custody.
The command of the Junta, he said came dragging some of them one after the other from their cells, beating detained soldiers and officers anyhow. The torture was very traumatic and painful he explained.
He mentioned names of imprison soldiers like Mamat Cham, Ebrima Chongan and RSM Babucar Jeng being taken out of their cells , beaten, tortured and after a while we heard gun shots and we believe that they were executed.
The Junta members made them to believe that Matmat Cham, Ebrima Chongan and RSM Jeng were being killed.
He further disclosed that Captain Samsidden Sarr remained motionless in his cell after the tortures and he (Sarr) displayed excessive fear, depression and symptoms of mental illness. The witness disclosed that he was detained for almost 18 months.
I Was Charged for Treason just because I joined Sir Dawda Jawara”- said Tijan Touray former Presidential body guard
By Ousman A. Marong
On Wednesday Tijan Touray former presidential body guard to Sir Dawda Jawara said he was Charged for Treason simply because he has joined former President Jawara out of the country. “The removal of Turo Jawneh as State House was cooked and it was referred to as “Mutiny” to topple the leadership of Sir Dawda Jawara.”, he remark.
He made these disclosure via Skype call from UK to counsel Mariama Signateh at Dunes Hotel inKololi.
Tijan Touray who joined the service as Gendarmerie officer in 1986 and later rose to rank of presidential state guard commander has informed the commissioners that the July, 22nd 1994 coup could have been aborted if there were some resistance.
Describing Turo Jawneh he hailed him as a faithful servant who is upright, loyal and highly respected amongst his comrades including ex-president Jammeh himself.
He cogitate while in the UK with former President Jawara in the July 1994, were Lang Tombong Tamba called him to inform him (Tijan Touray) that there was an abortive.
“I personally convinced Sir Dawda Jawara that it was safe for us to return back since the dust has settled down.”
He highlighted that on July 21st, 1994 upon their arrival at the airport from UK, Lang Tombong Tamba ordered him to join the guard of honour instead of him continuing with the then president to State House. He further revealed that on July 22nd, 1994 he went to State House to ask for his uniform to be use in guards of honour where he saw former President Jawara on a vehicle with the then UK Ambassador to the Gambia.
“They drove away and I happened to followed them to the sea where I saw them boarding the British war ship, there Kabba Bajo send me back to statehouse to check what was going on there.”, he stressed.
He said when he returned back to state House he realised that Lang Tombong Tamba was among the coup plotters.
He stressed that upon arrival at State House he saw a group of armed soldiers, who were like rebels turning their berets in and out the State House identifying soldiers difficult.
He said he saw Yahya Jammeh among disgruntled soldiers adding that he heard Lang Tombong negotiating their entry to State House with other guards at the gate.
He said this was a time when the then State House commander Ebrima Njie was on treatment in the UK and Lamin Kabba Bajo was with Jawara at the sea meaning Lang Tombong was the next in command at the material time.
He outlined that he saw some unhappy state guards who wanted to resist, when they noticed that Yahya Jammeh was the ring leader sighting that they knew he wouldn’t make a good leader.
“This was when I decided to leave the country, because I did not want to associate myself with the junta.” he concluded