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Ex-GNA officer says tortured by NIA

May 15, 2012, 11:30 AM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

Lt. Col Mam Matarr Secka, the former transport commander of the Gambia national army and the officer overseeing the military police unit, has said he was tortured at the conference room of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in Banjul.

Continuing his defence testimony at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul yesterday, Secka told the court that while in the darkened room of the conference room of the NIA, he started bleeding as a result of the torture inflicted on him by NIA officers.

“I felt unconscious, and sustained a wound on my leg. When I told them that I had an accident, I could hear the voice of Omar Cham, instructing the officers who were torturing me, to stop beating me,” he narrated to the court.

“When the officers left the conference room, Omar Cham then asked me whether I am ready to sign the statement that I refused to sign. When I thought about my safety, I then complied with their demand,” he added.

“Cham then switched on the light, and asked me to stand up. I told Cham that I cannot stand”, he continued, adding that at that point Alhagie and Cham supported him to stand up, and he was then placed on a chair, handcuffed and tied to the chair.

He said they brought the statement that he objected to sign, and he appended his signature on it.

Mam Matarr Secka then produced in court the tissue paper he said he used to wipe the blood on his face, and told the court that he kept the tissue paper, because it was the only thing he could use to support his testimony.

The defence counsel applied to tender the said tissue paper, but the principal state counsel MS Bowala objected to the tendering of the tissue paper.

However, her objection was overruled, and it was admitted and marked as a defence exhibit.

Lt. Col Secka continued testifying, and told the court that even the shirt that he wore was taken away from him by Omar Cham, because of the blood stains on it.

“Upon my arrival at Mile 2, I was received and asked whether I am Secka. I told them that I am Secka. They informed me that they have an order to treat me, but when I asked for the medical form, they declined to give me the form,” he further told the court.

 He added that he was treated, and on 13 March 2010, in the morning, he was again picked up by the NIA officers from Mile 2 and taken to the NIA head office in Banjul.

They went straight to the conference room, where he met a panel, together with Sillaba Samateh, Pa Habibou Mbye, Major Kuluteh Manneh, Ensa Badjie, Omar Ndaw, Charles Ockeke and others.

Secka said the panel was chaired by Omar Cham.

Lt. Col Secka told the court that Omar Cham told them that they were going to conduct a confrontation, where Sillaba would be given the floor, and later they would each be allowed to answer a question.

The witness told the court that before Sillaba could begin explaining, he paused for a few minutes, and later mentioned the names of Charles Ockeke, Iderish Masade, Aron David Wright, Salim Morrocan, Omar Ndaw, and Muhammed Ceesay.

He said Sillaba told the panel that Ndaw facilitated the amount of 5,000 Euro on behalf of Muhammed Ceesay, and that he Sillaba knew Omar Ndaw, and Muhammed Ceesay.

He said at that juncture, Omar Cham stood up and told Sillaba that if he Sillaba refused to talk, he would face what he (Secka) and others faced.

Pa Habibou then told Omar Cham that he needed to be careful, because he had written to the President, and the allegation against Sillaba was that Sillaba used to go around town telling people the President had given him drugs to sell; and, Sillaba used to capitalize on that to gain money.

He said Pa Habibou further told Cham that Sillaba should be charged, and they started arguing.

“I was given a form to write my statement. I then wrote, and I denied being a pilot and also indicated I knew nothing about aircrafts,” he added.

Concerning the CD, Secka further told the court that he never heard his name mentioned nor his voice, neither did he hear the name of the President, and that nobody pointed a finger at him during the so-called conference at the NIA.

The case continues on 16 May 2012.

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