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Six Gambian Boxers Deported From Spain

Sep 7, 2009, 8:08 AM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh

Following the controversial detention of six members of the Gambia Boxing Amateur Association, who were believed to be on their way to Milan, Italy, to attend the International Boxing Championship, the six Gambian youths namely Malick Singhateh, a referee and a judge, Badu Secka also a referee and a judge, Duga Jabbi referee and a judge, Sulayman Coli, an extra person stroke-referee and a judge, Lamin Gibba referee-boxer who weight 48 kilogram and the Treasurer of the Gambia Boxing Amateur Association, who was also the leader of the six arrested Gambians in Madrid, Spain Mamudou Drammeh, have since Friday 4th September 2009, being deported back to The Gambia after spending eight days in detention by the Spanish Immigration. The six Gambian boxers arrived at the Banjul International Airport in the early hours of Friday where they were welcomed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mambanyik Njie, the interim chairperson of the National Sports Council, Mustapha Alex Dacosta and the Executive Secretary of the National Sports Council, Alieu Y. Cham.

Speaking to reporters at the press briefing on Friday afternoon, the leader of the group, Mamudou Drammeh explained what had transpired during their detention by the Spanish Immigration in Madrid.

"It all started on Friday 28th August 2009, when we were supposed to represent the country in the ongoing International Boxing Championship in Milan. We had a transit to Madrid, Spain but due to the fact that we could not have a direct flight to the Milan championship, the 17-man delegation had arrangements with three flights: two in Senegal, Dakar and one in The Gambia. I was the leader of the one in The Gambia which is the Span Air, while the President of the Gambia Amateur Boxing Association Tamsir Sarr was the leader of other two in Senegal," Mr Drammeh explained.

He added "we left The Gambia on 28th August 2009, late at night with our visas intact and bought our tickets to Madrid and also made our bookings with the Span Air that was supposed to connect us to Milan  which was done through electronic tickets and the reference were given to us, but upon arrival in Madrid we met the foot of the aircraft who were believed to be Immigration Officers asked us about our mission, we told them that we are on our way to a boxing championship in Milan on a transit because we could not have a direct flight."

Mamudou Drammeh went on to add that, he was asked by the Immigration Officers to give him his passport which he accordingly did, including the rest of the team.

According to him, their references, tickets and visas were also collected from them, and later asked to join the bus to one hotel where they were expected to wait for confirmation from their colleagues in Madrid. But, he said they were later made to understand that the hotel was locked-up, noting that they were unable to communicate with their team-mates in Milan.

'The Immigration Officers asked us when is the championship going to start, I told him that it will start on the 1st to 12th September and we will be back on the 13th September 2009," he stated.   

According to him, the most unfortunate thing was that they were not getting access to the information from their colleagues in Milan, because of the distance between them and the fax machine.

Mr. Drammeh, however, indicated that the trip was a genuine one, given the fact that they produced their travelling insurance and also procured their travel tickets, amongst other travelling documents.

He described their deportation as unfortunate to the boxing association, though he remained confidence that five other Gambian Boxers that are currently taking part in the championship will make an impact, despite their absence.

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mambanyik Njie said with the help of God the six arrested Gambians are finally back for reasons they don't' know. As he put it, "as far as we are concerned, they have fulfilled all the criteria to participate in the boxing championship in Milan". He commended the arrested Gambians for manifesting a high sense of maturity during this difficult period.

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