7 January 2013

Gambia: More Soldiers Testify At Court Martial

The General Court Martial continued at the Yundum Barracks on Wednesday, 2 January 2013, with more testimonies from soldiers serving as State witnesses in the trial of 2 soldiers, Sergeant Manlafi Jarju and Corporal Karamo Jatta, who are charged for abusing their juniors at The Gambia Armed Forces Training School some time in 2009.

Continuing her evidence, Sona Jammeh (PW2) said she is not aware of anything that transpired between Corporal Karamo Jatta and Private Sona Badjie. She told the Court Martial that Corporal Jatta was an Instructor but not attached to their company. She added that she was in the same company with Sona Badjie and did the same parade with her together. She said during one of the parades, she saw Corporal Jatta called Sona Badjie to go and see him, but she could not tell what happened when she went to see him. She added that nothing has happened between herself and Corporal Jatta.

Under cross examination by lawyer Borry S. Touray, she admitted that there is a joking relationship between Fula ethnic group and Jola ethnic group. She said she knows that Jarra Sowe is from the Fula ethnic group. She said she is married and her husband is a civilian.

Lawyer Touray asked "You said you were given hundred strokes on your buttocks. Does anything happen to your buttocks?"

Private Jammeh said "Yes my buttocks was swollen and could not sit for 2 days".

Touray asked "Did you go to the clinic for treatment?" Jammeh replied in the negative. Touray asked "Is it correct that medical facilities are available for recruits during training?" She replied in the positive. Touray asked "Have you ever heard of the Standing Operational Procedures?" She replied in the positive. She indicated that she has read the copy of SOP and understand that as a recruit she has a right to complain of any maltreatment during trainings. She said she knows there is a head in charge of the training school in the person of Brigadier General Saikou Seckan, now the deputy CDS. She said she knew there was a commander to the company and platoon that she was attached to.

Touray asked PW2: "Do you know there are several instructors at the training school?" Private Jammeh said, "Yes, but I did not know all of them and their names". Touray asked, "Did you ever complain to anyone from the senior to the last person?" She said, "I only informed Corporal Ebou Colley, one of the instructors about the incident. Touray asked, "Which company was Ebou Colley attached to?" Jammeh said, I only know him as an Instructor, but did not know which company he was at." Touray ask, "Was he present when the incident happened?" Jammeh said, "No, he found me crying and asked about the problem then I told him the matter. He then took photos of me crying with his camera." Touray asked "Did you ever complain to the NIA about this case?" "No I did not personally go to NIA to lodge the complaint. On this day I was on my way to the market and received a call from the chief clerk that I should report to defence headquarters to see Jawo and later to Joint headquarters. From there I was told that I'm needed at the NIA. At the NIA I was asked about the issue of Sergeant Jarju and Corporal Jatta, but I told them I did not know anything and was not willing to write any statement. I was detained by the NIA up to 4 O' clock and I was in a haste to go home to cook because it was in the Ramadan. I later gave a statement because I wanted to go home and cook",

Lawyer Touray asked "Did you give the statement on your free will?" Jammeh said, "I was told by NIA that if I did not write the statement I will not be released to go home." Touray asked 'Who detained you at the NIA?" Jammeh said, "I did not know their names." Touray asked "Would you have written that statement if you were not detained by the NIA?" Jammeh said, "No I would not have given that statement." "Adama Jatta and Manlafi Jarju, who is the senior?" asked defence counsel.

PW2 responded "Adama Jatta". Counsel asked, "Your statement at NIA, was it recorded by yourself or someone recorded it?"Jammeh said, I was talking and they wrote." Touray asked "Is it true that you told the NIA that you did not know anything about the allegation against these two accused persons?" Jammeh said, 'Yes, I did, but they told me it was Sona Badjie who told them that I'm aware of the incident and because I was in a haste to go and cook, I told them what I know." Touray asked, "Is it correct that during your training none of the instructors expressed love for you?" Jammeh said, "That never happened." Touray asked, "Sona Badjie is your close friend, do you know any Instructor who ever expressed love to her?" Jammeh said, "I'm not aware."

The third prosecution witness (PW3) is Staff Sergeant Buba Camara. He told the Court that he served the Army for 17 years and is attached to GAF Training School since 2008 to date. Staff Sergeant Camara said he knows Sona Badjie and recognized Corporal Jatta. Staff Sergeant Camara said he was aware of an incident between Private Sona Badjie and Corporal Jatta. He said on the day of the incident, he was coming from the senior officer's mess and saw Jatta punishing private Badjie by beating her. He indicated that he ordered Jatta to stop beating her. He added that he then ordered Sona back to the parade and he spoke with Jatta about the matter. He indicated that he informed Jatta that while he [Jatta) was away in Turkey they were given orders not to beat recruits. He said Jatta told him he was not aware of those orders and said he has regretted his actions and is ashamed of what he did. He said Jatta is an Instructor at the Training School and they did the training together in same year. He added that it is not acceptable in the Army for instructors to beat recruits. He concluded that Jatta did not tell him the reason for beating Private Sona Badjie.

Hearing continues today. See next Foroyaa issue for cross examination by Lawyer Edrissa Sissoho.

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