Gambia: David Colley Finally Admits Food Served in Prisons Was Bad

The former director of the prison service, David Charles Colley, has on Monday admitted that the food served in the prisons for the inmates was bad.

During his first testimony before the Truth Commission (TRRC) in the previous session, Colley said the food that he was served while he was an inmate as well as the director general of the prison service was good.

Before He Admits

Teeing off his Monday testimony, he said they received a menu from the government through NaNA (National Nutrition Agency) which they follow.

Told by lead counsel, Essa Faal, that the food he served to the inmates was poor, Colley said they would not serve food that is not indicated on the menu.

Asked whether the menu indicated the quality, Colley said the food was prepared by the inmates. According to him, he does not have the money to add to the diet.

Faal said the TRRC have received evidences that when Mrs. Culose was director of service, the food served to the inmates was better in quality than when he (Colley) was the director. Colley was an inmate then.

Colley replied that he ate the food and because he did not die, it was good.

He denied that when he was director general the food he served was bad which in fact led to the death of prisoners.

He said prisoners were dying in prison even before he joined the prison.

He said he cannot tell the cause of the death of the prisoners was as a result of the bad food served.

Colley claimed that he was hearing for the first time before the Truth Commission that beriberi illness was caused by bad food served in the prison.

Counsel Faal warned the witness for the second time that lying before the Commission was a serious offence.

Moving on, Faal asked him to indicate the first time he heard that beriberi illness was caused by bad food served in the prison, he said he heard it outside.

"I used to hear it from outside. There, nobody asked me. I was asked hear," he said.

After persistent asking for clarification, Colley said he heard about beriberi illness saga at the prison while he was director general.

Asked whether he received recommendations about beriberi in the prisons, Colley responded in the positive.

He said he received the recommendations and that his line ministry said they would take the matter with the finance ministry to add the food supplement.

Colley said adjustment was made, but it was not enough.

Owing to Colley's response, Faal asked him whether the insufficient adjustment he asserted hints that the quality of food was not good enough.

He responded in the negative and talked about the quantity of the food instead.

Faal asked him to reply a "yes or no question and stop dilly-dallying."

The local dialect interpreters then took time to explain to Colley what the lead counsel was asking him to answer.

Finally, he admitted that the food served in the prison was not good.

To be continued...

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