10 January 2018

Gambia: At the Court Martial - 'We Were Tortured' 2nd, 3rd Accused Persons

Lieutenant Abdoulie Jarju and Lieutenant Yaya Jammeh have told the general Court-Martial that they were severely tortured whilst in custody pending investigation.

The duo gave evidence yesterday, the 9th day January 2018, in the general Court-Martial's trial within trail at the Yundum Barracks.

The defence lawyer, Sheriff Kumba Jobe raised an issue of torture in obtaining the cautionary statements of the 2nd and 3rd accused persons. He alleged that they (the 2nd and 3rd accused persons) were tortured at the time of taking their cautionary statements.

Lieutenant Abdoulie Jarju in cross-examination by State Counsel, Yusuf, told the panellists of the Court-martial that his face was covered and was tortured before his cautionary statements were taken, adding that he sustained injuries as a result of beatings. When asked by the State prosecution whether he was taken to any medical facility for treatment; the witness responded in the negative.

Lieutenant Jarju said he could not remember the particular time he was tortured due to the severe pain he was exposed to. He added that the date he was taken to the NIA was the 1st day of July, 2017.

"What did you do that resulted to your beating"? asked Lawyer Yusuf.

"I was beaten because I refused to sign the cautionary statement tendered before me at the NIA headquarters in Banjul" replied Lieutenant Jarju.

Counsel Yusuf still asked the witness whether he (the witness) reported the alleged torture to the relevant authorities. The witness responded, "I need not address the allegation of torture to any authority".

"Do you want this court to believe that you were exposed to life threatening injuries and that you were not taken to any medical facility" Lawyer Yusuf asked. The witness responded in the affirmative.

The witness further demonstrated before the Court-Martial how he was tortured whilst under custody. He demonstrated before the panelist of the Court-Martial that his hands were cuffed, legs tied and asked to bow down.

For his part, Lieutenant Yaya Jammeh in his evidence in chief said he is a resident of Tujereng, Kombo South District.

He said he was arrested on the 22nd day of July, 2017, taken to the Fajara Barracks for interrogation. He added that he was further taken to Banjul at the NIA headquarters for interrogation, adding that after the interrogation, he was then taken to the Military Police in the Yundum Military Barracks.

"After I left the Military Police, I was taken to the military archery room where I was detained for over two months. Throughout the two months I made no communications with my family nor do I have (received) a family visitor" Lieutenant Jammeh said.

The witness said during his 2 months in detention at the military archery room, he has never changed his shirt even once and was forced to perform ablution in the toilet to worship his creator.

Lieutenant Jammeh said on the following day, July 23rd, he was taken to the NIA headquarters by Lieutenant Yusupha Jallow. "I was asked what happened at the AU Villa and I told them nothing happen at the AU Villa, (in Brufut) and my cautionary statement was taken on the same day".

The witness said the Cautionary Statement that was tendered in Court that was marked as exhibit PVD1A was not his but written by Captain Alagie Camara, one of the investigators and also the fourth prosecution witness in the case.

Lieutenant Jammeh told the Court-Martial that after he told the investigators at the NIA that he knew nothing that was happening at the AU Villa, he was taken to a separate room where he was tortured.

"My hands were cuffed and my legs were tied and my head was forced into a pan full with water" he said.

"After my head was pulled from the pan, I was asked to give a different statement but I still maintained my position. I still maintained my position that I know nothing taking place at the time" he said.

He continued in evidence in chief that his private part was tied so that it was difficult to pass urine out. He added that one of those who tortured him was his junior in the military who was Lieutenant Yusupha Jallow who was an investigator and now a prosecutor.

"There is nowhere in the GAF ethics that a junior should look at the private part of his senior talk less of torturing a senior" he said.

"I was seriously tortured by Captain Alagie Camara (the 4th prosecution witness) and Lieutenant Yusupha Jallow (a prosecutor and a former investigator in this criminal suit)" he said.

He said his cautionary statement was recorded in the absence of the Independent witness, Bernard Jatta, the fifth prosecution witness.

Lieutenant Jammeh admitted that the cautionary statement taken on July 26th, 2017 and marked as PVD1 was his whilst denying PVD1A dated 23rd of July, 2017 saying it was made by Captain Alagie Camara.

The case was adjourned to Friday the 12th of January, 2018 for continuation of hearing and cross-examination.

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