10 August 2011

Gambia:Interior Minister Was Aware of The Torture

Former operations commander of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA), Mr Ousman Sanneh has said that the minister of Interior Ousman Sonko was aware of the torture meted out on two anti-drug officers by four personnel of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in 2009.
“Minister Sonko was aware of the torture because Ebrima Bun Sanneh reported the matter to him,” Sanneh said while testifying in the torture case involving the four NIA operatives.
The trial which is underway at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court involves Lamin Darboe, Ebrima Drammeh, Edrissa Jobe and Omar Jammeh.
They are alleged to have caused grievous bodily harm to Lamin Kabou and Lamin Sima by beating them with fist blows, electric cables and metals at the NIA headquarters in Banjul. All accused persons denied the charges.
Sanneh’s statement according to the accused person’s lawyer was a bit in conflict with the former NDEA boss, Bun Sanneh who had told the court that the matter was not reported to Minister Sonko. But the witness maintained that what he had said the truth.
“Did you report the matter to the police,” defense lawyer Sissoho asked.  “I personally did not report the matter because the then IGP was aware of it,” the witness said.
However, he told the court that the alleged torture incident did not happen in their presence.
 “I have not seen them with my naked eyes but I saw the signs of torture all over their bodies.”
He said the drug officers claimed to be tortured, but were never taken to any hospital for medical treatment.
Still under cross-examination, Sanneh told the court that NDEA is the lead agency in drug related matters.
 “Is NDEA the only agency in The Gambia empowered to investigate drug related matters,” lawyer Sissoho inquired.
 “Yes Sanneh replied, adding that the police can arrest and hand over any drug suspect but should not interfere likewise the NIA.”
 He added that his men - Lamin Kabou and Lamin Sima - were charged and arraigned before the Banjul Magistrates’ Court. He said he had earlier told the panel at the NIA that they have no criminal case against the two.
“At the panel I asked the accused persons what wrong had the NDEA officers committed and the 3rd accused responded that they were obstructed by Lamin Kabou and Lamin Sima while executing their duty,” he said.
The case will resume August 19, 2011.
Author: Binta A Bah

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