Jatta, the former chief of Defence Staff of The Gambia Armed Forces has
admitted that the squad of junglers – the killers for ex president Yahya Jammeh
was initiated while he was at helm of armed forces. He added that it is correct
that one of his brothers, Malick Jatta was part of the first batch of junglers.
He told the Commissioner that he knew that the junglers were a hit squad for Yahya Jammeh.
Jatta who recently appeared before the TRRC in connection with the April 10/11 2000 students’ demonstration, said the former vice president Aja Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy had deployed soldiers and commanded the situation of the incident.
He narrated that on his way to work he went up to GTTI and met Babucarr Sowe, former commissioner of Operations of Gambia Police Force, adding that when he saw a crowd of students; about 5000, when the police fired tear gas, they ran but were chased by the police.
The witness explained that as they addressed students at Dibba Kunda, the then minister of the Interior, Ousman Badjie, told them that there were laws in the country which need to be respected. He, however, continued that the students started throwing stones at him and the PIU eventually started firing live rounds.
It was alleged that he ordered for the shooting; however, he told the Commission that former Interior Minister Ousman Badjie was present at State House when the former vice president ordered the deployment of the army and took command of the situation.
“She was acting commander in chief who ordered me to deploy my men to quell the demonstration by using our weapons.”
He accepted that he was responsible of whatever they did to the students, admitting that while at VP’s Office, he received a call from former President, Yahya Jammeh.
He acknowledged that his description of the situation at the time was false; adding that it was true that there was a cover up from the side of the government. He accepted that he had caused a dangerous situation by firing at students.
Former CDS Jatta revealed to the Commission that the operational orders were issued on 10 April, 2000. However, it was surprisingly stated in the report of the Commission of Inquiry that the Operational Orders were issued on 11 April, 2000, he stated.
He said Baba Jobe was on the ground and told Vincent Jatta that he was on the same operations with him (Babucarr). “My duty was to supervise what my men were doing,” he said.
According to him, the officer commanding in Basse called and informed him that there were some disturbances around Jarra Soma and Brikamaba as well, noting that based on the commander’s advice, he deployed a platoon.
“I ordered the deployment of my men from Farafenni to Brikamaba and I also used my men from Basse.”
He said in areas like Jarra Soma and Basse, there were not much problems but in Brikamaba, which he said was problematic for them. Mr. Jatta further told the commission that his men were armed with AK 47s with live rounds.
The witness admitted that his troops fired at students in the early hours of the morning and that was the time he began to investigate the matter.
When lead Counsel Faal, put to him that he earlier prepared to give a back-up to the police, Jatta said he was undermined and anyone that gave the order to shoot must have been someone above them.
Mr. Jatta apologised to victims of April 10/11, 2000.
“The Commission of Inquiry on April 10/11 recommended for Corporal Camara, Abdou Giri Njie, Alieu Kambi to be prosecuted but this was never adhered to due to the Indemnity Act which was passed shortly after the incident.”
However, Jatta accepted responsibility for what went wrong in the report regarding his men.
On the death of Ousman Koro Ceesay, he said he got information from the late DG of NIA Samba Bah that there was an incident which occurred in Janbur involving a Mercedes Benz issued to a minister.
He said after observing the vehicle, he realised that it was not a real accident, noting that the vehicle was set on fire.