25 March 2019

Gambia: At TRRC - Lt. Sanyang Says Alleged Torturer Still Serves Under Gaf

Photo: Claire Bargelès/RFI
Banjul, The Gambia.

Lieutenant-Colonel Baboucar Sanyang told the TRRC that his alleged torturer who nearly suffocated him to death in 1995, still serves in the Gambia National Army.

Sanyang said this on Thursday March 21st 2019, whilst completing his marathon testimony before the TRRC as the 32nd witness.

"It is very difficult to work under somebody who nearly took my life," the witness told Commissioners.

Brigadier-General Martin was reinstated by President Barrow into the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) following the December 2016 Presidential elections, when ex-president Yahya Jammeh was ousted from power. Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col) Sanyang told the TRRC how he was duty-bound to work under Brigadier General Alagie Martin after he was reinstated into the army by President Adama Barrow; that Martin ostensibly contrived him during his 1995 detention in Mile II Central Prison.

"On the 7th of September 2017, I was transferred from Yundum to the Joint Headquarters under IG's office, and was appointed Martin's deputy, somebody who nearly took my life. You're now telling me to go and be telling him 'yes sir, good morning sir'. I wasn't happy with this," the witness told Commissioners; that the more he tried to work under Brigadier-General Martin, the more his fury grew; that not even his reputation as a disciplined and good professional soldier, can stop his deepening anger; that at the end, he could not take it.

He said he has worked under Martins for seven months at the Joint Defense Headquarters. He said during this period, Martin has never apologized to him about the torture he meted on him.

His Detention, Torture At Mile II:

Sanyang said on 27th January 1995 while at Yundum Barracks, Camp Commander and Captain, Vincent Jatta, called him and informed him that he was needed in Banjul. He said he was told that Lieutenant Frezer Joof was the one asking for him. He said he went to meet Joof at the anti-room who informed him that a vehicle was being arranged to take them to Banjul. He said Joof did not allow him to leave the anti-room until the vehicle came. He added that he saw two vehicles; adding that Sergeant Alagie Martin (now a Brigadier-General), was in one of the vehicles. He said when Martin came to the anti-room, he was received by Joof and after their discussion, he was asked to hand over everything he had in his possession. He added that after handing over, Martin ordered them to board the vehicle. He went on to say

the soldiers who came with Martin included one Corporal Ndour, Batch Samba Jallow, Pa Senghore (an employee of the NIA) and others, he cannot remember. He added that on their way to Banjul, he asked Brigadier-General Martin as to the place they were taking him.

"Martin told me: My friend, shut up. Don't ask!" the witness said.

He said Martin took him to Mile II; and whilst at Mile II, Antou Saidy and Martin held brief discussion and later asked them to alight from the vehicle. He testified that he was searched and escorted into the prisons, adding he heard Batch Samba Jallow telling Martin that he should be allowed to kill them.

He said he was detained in Cell 12 of the Maximum Security Wing, and he met Captain Sanna Sabally, Captain Sadibou Hydara, Private Jakariya Darboe, Baboucar Njie, Lamin Drammeh, Abdou Manneh and Omar Sonko (an orderly to Captain Sadibou Hydara). He noted that Captain Sabally told him to calm down.

He said Sabally told him outright that it was during his torture that he remembered mentioning my name as some of the people who came to his residence; that Sadibou Hydara and Sanna Sabally were mal-handled; that both Sabally and Hydara were taken for questioning one after the other, and that the condition of Hydara was worse because he was supported at the time he was brought back to his cell.

He said they came for him, put him in chains, and took him to Security Wing number 4; that it was there he saw Brigadier-General Martin with his men seated.

"Some step before I reached, I received a knock from the back and I loss balance and fell. I was supported to sit down," the witness said.

He said Brigadier-General Martin started interrogating him about his relationship with Captains Sabally and Hydara, adding that he responded to Martin that he went to Sabally's residence to change guards. He testified that Martin insisted he was working with Sabally and Hydara to carry out a coup.

"When I told him I am not part of any coup, he ordered his men to handle me," the witness said. He further testified that a plastic bag was put on his head and tied, adding that they beat him randomly, as well as suffocated him with the plastic bag. He said when he was released from the torture, he was questioned by Martin on the same issue and he gave them the same reply.

"They tied my head again and began beating me until I fainted, because I was not able to inhale fresh air," the witness said. He said it was Alagie Martin who supervised his torture until he fainted; that when he regained consciousness, his breathing was very fast. He showed the Commission the injuries he sustained during that torture.

"Even at now, I cannot understand my body. I have pains on my back, chest and body," the witness said.

He said he was released in 1995; that in 1996, he went to Ghana. "In Accra, I was admitted in hospital. The training was so tense and you cannot back out," the witness said. He said in 2008, he went to Nigeria to do a junior staff course; that he was always frequent at the clinic; that in 2012, he went to Nigeria to do another course and had similar problems; that when he went to the USA, he was diagnosed and was told that there was something in his back and that he should see a cardiologist. "I still feel pain in my back and chest. I have not been treated since my release to date, and Alagie Martins is responsible for my problems," the witness said.

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