Gambia: Marabout's Son Says Islamic Council Played a Role in His Father's Arrest

Abass Muhideen Hydara on Thursday, 23rd January told the TRRC that his father's arrest and subsequent prosecution was facilitated by the Supreme Islamic Council.

Late Hydara was a marabout and had a large following. He was residing in Darsilami in Foni.

He said on the 28th day of July 2014, the Supreme Islamic Council (SIC) under the leadership of the current President Momodou Lamin Touray together with former President Yahya Jammeh prayed the feast of Ramadan on the 28th July 2014.

He said on the same day, the SIC asked the former head of state not to allow prayers on the following day.

"Acting on this instruction, Yahya Jammeh said he is the owner of the country and no one is allowed to pray the following day. He threatened anyone who prays the following day would be arrested," the witness said.

He said it was the belief of his father as stated by the prophet that people should pray only if they saw the moon.

"We prayed on the day prohibited by Yahya Jammeh and the Islamic Council. Our alkali and my father were arrested by the police," he said.

He said his father was planning to go to perform the pilgrimage in Mecca but his trip couldn't materialise as a result of his arrest and subsequent prosecution.

"My father had large followers and his arrest affected many people. We were all let down because the Supreme Islamic Council (SIC) pioneered his arrest," he said.

He said his father's belief was people should sight the moon before praying, but the Islamic Council believed that people should pray with Mecca.

He said the Council tried all they could for people to pray together with Mecca and when they realised they couldn't, they asked the former President to go against the people.

Detention of his father

He said his father spent one day at Sibanor Police Station and two days at Yundum Police Station. He said his father was moved to the Police Headquarters in Banjul and later they went to the Supreme Islamic Council.

He said at the meeting at the Supreme Islamic Council, Imam Abdoulie Fatty of the State House told his late father that he was behind his arrest and not the former President. He said they argued there.

"They asked him to accept that he did wrong and he should confess. My father refused to accept doing any wrong. There was quarrel because we knew we did nothing wrong," the witness said.

He said the members of the Council asked them to return to the Yundum Police Station.

"They told us we will be released. When we went to the police station, we spent the night there. What the Supreme Islamic Council told us did not happen. When the then IGP Yankuba Sonko came to the Yundum Police Station, my father was released on bail on the following day with a bond of D100,000," he said.

He said the trial started on Tuesday, 12th August 2014 before the Brikama Magistrate's Court. He said the court on the first day of the trial refused his late father's plea to sit down even though he was of old age.

He said his father was jointly charged with Wuyeh Touray for disobeying the lawful orders of the ex-President by going against the prayer day announced on the national radio (GRTS). He said the case was handled by three magistrates and the case was transferred to the Brikama High Court. The trial ended in May 2015.

"My father was not a criminal. He was arrested and prosecuted on what he believed as a Muslim. He suffered in the hands of the regime for crimes he never committed," he said.

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