The former Vice Chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council has accepted responsibility for the summary execution of the alleged November 11th 1994 coup plotters.
“I accept responsibility because I was the commander,” former Captain Sanna Sabally told the TRRC on Wednesday.
He said the alleged coup plotters would have killed the junta leadership if they succeeded. Sabally, who had also become a victim of the very junta he had defended to the core, also admitted parading captured soldiers at Fajara Barracks before their execution. “I ordered that [Lt. Basiru] Barrow and [Lt. Abdoulie] Dot Faal be killed because they were the ring leaders. I opened fire at them. I am responsible. I was the commander. Jammeh was in agreement with the killings,” Sabally told the crowded TRRC hall.
He had however admitted it was “wrong and illegal” to kill coup suspects. Referring to the coup suspects as “enemies”, Sabally confessed to the arrest, detention and torture of security officers at Mile 2 Central Prisons.
“Those who were arrested were beaten. This was a moment when we were very angry because they have listed our names for execution. Their clothes were removed. We boarded them into a truck, sent them to Mile 2 and then to Fajara Barracks. I was responsible. Collectively we all have responsibilities.”
Sanna Sabally recounted the November 11th foiled coup, saying he had received information from the former National Intelligence Agency Samba Bah chief hat disturbances erupted the Yundum Barracks. He said the ruling AFPRC Council assigned him and others to address soldiers. “I made it clearly that anybody who comes against us will be crushed. We left Yundum Barracks for the residences,” Sabally said, adding that he had later received further information that the soldiers were going ahead with their plans after they had access to weapons. Sabally said the Council members held a meeting at State House unanimously agreeing to crush the plot.
“We cannot allow them to come and attack our house. So we had to attack them and that is at Yundum Barracks. We went with our body guards and four council members. I was in command. When we attacked the camp, we went to the signal office and found Ebrima Beyai, we found him sleeping, I used the telephone to call Jammeh that we have taken over the barracks,” he said, explaining how one Lt. Binneh Minteh of Fajara Barracks called the operator notifying him about Basiru Barrow’s coming to the barracks. “I was right behind him. I told him to speak normal. We then knew that they were coming and we laid an ambush.”
Having realised his wrong judgment, Sanna Sabally sought for forgiveness. His voluntary testimony, which continues tomorrow, is crucial for the Commission’s efforts to establish truth about the gross violations of human rights and atrocities committed during The Gambia’s 22-year dictatorship.