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Senior police officer admits 2006 claims coupists were tortured

Feb 4, 2021, 12:07 PM | Article By: Pa Modou Cham

Crime management coordinator of The Gambia Police Force Demba Sowe, in his TRRC testimony yesterday told the commission that the suspects of the aborted March 2006 attempted coup were tortured by soldiers dressed in black before their appearance before the panel of investigators.

He confirmed to the commission that the manner suspects’ statements were taken was illegal. He added that armed soldiers were present and it was intimidating. 

“The statements of the suspects were not obtained voluntarily and it could be considered illegal. The police offers who were part of the panel knew that it was unlawful.” 

Dwelling on the attempted coup, the witness explained that he was part of the investigative panel which comprised the police, military and the intelligence. He added that he briefed the police officers that they were investigators and need to do their job properly.

“Bunja Darboe was the first to be brought to the panel by the soldiers. During the engagement, I saw Musa Jammeh and Tumbul Tamba escorting Darboe with cuff and we felt that wasn’t normal. We questioned him (Darboe) about his activities and possible involvement. Most of the suspects were escorted like Darboe by people in blacks and they were interviewed to obtain their statements.”

He added that the suspects were brought to the panel with scars and bruises on their bodies, adding the suspects appeared to have been tortured by the ‘junglers’. 

The former assistant Inspector General of Police said the panel was instituted but was illegal in the way suspects were brought up. He, however, continued that their activities were also legal because they were tasked to investigate crimes.

“I cannot accept that all what the panel did were wrong. I told you that some suspects were beaten but that doesn’t mean that all the proceedings were wrong. One may be wrong but couldn’t say something about it because of the system we worked under.”

On whether the members of the panel knew that suspects were beaten, the witness insisted he could only confirm his knowledge but can’t speak about the knowledge of others.

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