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Case Of Six Arrested Gambians Still A Mystery - Gov't

Sep 4, 2009, 4:49 AM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh

If the position of the Ministry of Youth and Sports is to be made very clear, the case of six Gambian youths who were arrested and still being held in Madrid, Spain, is a mystery to the government of the Gambia.

This was revealed by Mr. Mambanyick Njie, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, at a press conference held at the Independence Stadium yesterday to update the press on issues surrounding the case of the six youths who are still being held in Madrid.

The six Gambian youths: Mamodou Drammeh, Malick Singhateh, Badou Secka, Lamin Gibba, Sulayman Colley and Duga Jabbie, form part of a delegation of the Gambia Boxing Association, who were supposed to attend a boxing championship in Milan, Italy.

Sources told this paper that the delegation was arrested last Friday, while on a three-hour transit in Madrid.

"The case surrounding the six Gambian youths is still a mystery. We do not want to speculate unless we have the correct information from the Gambian Ambassador in Spain or the leader of the delegation, who is currently on his way to Madrid from Italy", Permanent Secretary Njie told journalists.

According to him, at the government level, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Youth and Sports, as well as the National Sports Council have been on their toes to find out why the six Gambian youths are being detained.

 "It is still not clear as to why they are being held at the moment", he said.

Mr. Njie further stated that the Boxing Association received a genuine invitation to attend an international boxing championship from the international boxing association.

 "When that was received, it was brought to the National Sports Council and the association was made to fill a travel clearance form, which is produced by the council to all associations to fill", he stated, adding that the association was found to have fulfilled all the necessary criteria.

The Gambia Boxing Association delegation consists of 16 people, including judges and referees who were to attend a training course, but due to the fact that they could not travel together, the group was divided into two. The second group, now taken into custody in Spain, took a flight bound for Banjul-Madrid then Madrid Milan.

Upon arrival in Madrid Airport, our sources stated, the six including the head of the team, Mamodou Drammeh, were arrested when they could not produce valid documents relating to the event they claimed to attend in Italy.

According to our sources, despite the fact that they got correct visas on their passports, coupled with the faxes sent by the organisers to the Spanish authorities, the six are still being detained.

This paper in pursuit of its journalistic values, at the time of going to press contacted the police station in Madrid where the six Gambian youths are being detained and in the event spoke to one of the detainees, Malick Singhateh. According to Singhateh, the Spanish authorities did not tell them anything, neither did they release them.

"They just tell us that by Friday (today) they will deport us back to the Gambia even though we all have valid visas", Singhateh told this paper in a telephone interview.

Other speakers at the press conference included Mr. Mustapha Dacosta, the Interim Chairman of the National Sports Council.

Meanwhile, efforts to talk to the Spanish Consulate in Banjul proved futile.