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Casamance rebels continue to testify

Apr 15, 2011, 2:05 PM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

The 17 alleged Casamance rebels on Thursday continued to testify in their own defence at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul before Justice Ikpala.

The accused persons include Yusupha Ceesay, Modou Lamin Badjie, Saku Jammeh, Zackaria Jatta, Tijan Camara, Mafuji Jarju, Abdoulie Sonko, Hatab Jatta, Abdou Badjie, Ebrima Jarju, Sang Sambou, Basiru Jammeh, Seedy Sanyang, Tumani Manga, Alasana Jarju and Aziz Kujabi.

They have all denied the charges, which are unlawful possession of firearms in the Republic of the Gambia and illegal entry into The Gambia.

Testifying yesterday, the seventh accused person, Abdoulie Sonko, told the court that he is a native of Kabelling village in Cassamance, adding that he was a separatist rebel who was fighting for the independence of Casamance from Senegal.

 He said he belonged to the movement called the MFDC, whose members later fell apart, but they were all struggling for one common cause, and that is the independence of Casamance.

The seventh accused further told the court that they were later attacked by their colleagues with guns, in the night, and fled into The Gambia.

 He said he was arrested by officers from the Brikama police, who told him that they were informed that he was a rebel from Cassamance, adding that his cash of 2,000 FCFA was taken from him.

He said he spent one day at the Brikama police cell, and was later taken to the NIA in Banjul.

Under cross-examination, the accused told the court that he obtained a permit at the Bullock Police Station, but it was later torn up by the police.

Hatab Jatta, the eight accused person, also testified and told the court that he is a native of Jankey village in the Casamance and a separatist rebel.

He said that MFDC is the sole group fighting for independence of Cassamance, and that they were surprised when attacked by their friends while sleeping at their camp.

"We were overpowered by our attackers. This was why we abandoned our camp and fled into The Gambia. I went to the Bullock Police Station, where we were arrested by Gambian soldiers, in the process of securing a permit," he added.

"We were searched and our monies and mobile phones were taken from us," the accused went on, adding that they were later taken to the NIA headquarters in Banjul.

Also testifying was Abdou Badjie, the ninth accused person, who told the court that he came from the village of Batibi in the Casamance, and knows all the accused persons, since they are all fighting for Casamance.

"We were attacked by our colleagues at our camp in Ballat and, at the time of the attack, I was not at the camp, but I decided to flee to The Gambia, into a village called Sutusinjang where I was arrested by Gambian soldiers," he added.

"I was searched and my monies and mobile phone taken from me. I was seriously tortured by the Gambian soldiers, who took me to Bullock Police Station," he further told the court.

"I was asked about our weapons, and I told them that they were hidden somewhere in Casamance. They told me to board the vehicle and lead them to the place where the guns were. We went to the place, and collected them," he further told the court.

Badjie said they took photos of the weapons, and were later taken to the NIA in Banjul.

The case at that juncture was adjourned till 5 May 2011, for continuation.