The Gambia’s former Chief of Police has told the Truth, Reconcilation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) at Dumes Hotel on Monday that the former junta member put a pistol in his mouth when he was gang tortured at the Mile II Central Prisons in Banjul.
“Captain Yankuba Touray shoved a 9-millimetre pistol in my mouth,” Ebrima Chongan, the first witness of the TRRC, explained.
The former gendarmerie instructor was arrested on July 25th for putting up a coup resistance at the Denton Bridge on July 22, 1994.
Chongan said it was traumatic for him to see a group of soldiers led by Junta Vice Chairman Captain Sanna Sabally; Defense Minister Captain Edward Singhateh; Interior Minister Captain Sadibou Hydara and Local Government Minister Captain Yankuba Touray at Mile II Prisons late at night only to torture military detainees. Chongan recalled how Captain Edward Singhateh tortured and dragged Captain Mamat Cham on concrete floor before being taken to a secret location. Captain Babucarr Jeng received similar maltreatment, the witness told Commissioners. In both cases, gunshots were fired in the air purposely to further traumatise detainees.
“Everyone was scared,” concurred Chongan who was handcuffed from behind, removed from his cell, tortured and dragged on a concrete floor. Consequently, Chongan suffered several injuries.
At gunpoint, Captain Sana Sabally asked Chongan to recite his last prayers. Chongan later heard gunshots in the air before being taken to a dark cell and detained along with Mamat Cham and Babucarr Jeng at the Maximum Security Wing of Mile II. They were isolated from other detainees for a month, denied bath or family visits.
Mr Chongan said they first heard about the purported November 11 military coup from the visiting Red Cross delegation before a prison warden confirmed the news. But the deaths of Lieutenant Basirou Barrow, Lieutenant [Abdoulie] Dot Faal and others were confirmed to them by some remanded soldiers accused of taking part in the coup.
Mr. Chongan also narrated the arrest of the former Junta Vice Chairman and Interior Minister, Captains Sana Sabally and Sadibou Hydara. He said among the torturers of Sabally and Hydara at night were Warrant Officer Alagie Martin and one Batch.
“I saw Alagie Martin twice taking part in the torture sessions of Sabally and Hydara. He was having a big hammer,” Chongan told commissioners.
Sittings of The Gambia’s first-ever Truth Commission continue on Tuesday.