By Nelson Manneh
The National Assembly Member for Talinding Constituency and member of the United Democratic Party (UDP), on Tuesday February 12th 2019, began her testimony before the High Court to recount her detention and alleged torture at the NIA headquarters after the April 14th UDP demonstrations.
Fatoumata Jawara was testifying before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the Banjul High Court, in the NIA 9 case between the State and the accused persons Yankuba Badjie, an ex-director of the NIA, Sheikh Omar Jeng, an ex-director of operations at the NIA, Baboucar Sallah, Haruna Suso, Tamba Mansareh, Lamin Darboe and Lamin Lang Sanyang. The 2nd accused person Louise Gomez, an ex-deputy director of the said agency, passed away in Government custody, during the course of the trial. However Yusupha Jammeh, the 6th accused person was acquitted by the Court, upon the State’s application.
Jawara is the 28th prosecution witness in the ongoing criminal trial involving former intelligence Chiefs who are standing trial on numerous offences ranging from conspiracy to commit felony, assault causing grievous bodily harm, murder and making false documents amongst others. They all denied wrongdoing.
In her narration Jawara said on April 14 2016, she was arrested and was first taken to the PIU Headquarters in Kanifing; that she was later transferred to Mile II Prisons and finally to the NIA headquarters in Banjul.
In her testimony, Jawara said on 14th April 2016, she was coming from M.D.I. and when she reach Westfield, she saw people running helter-skelter as they were chased by PIU officers; that among them, she saw some of her party militants; that thereafter, she said she began to run.
Jawara said as she was running, the PIU officers chased her and when they held her, they threw her inside a paramilitary truck and took her to the PIU headquarters were they were arraigned and transferred to Mile II prisons; that at Mile II, some of their materials were taking away from them; that late that night, they were then transferred from the Mile II prisons to the NIA headquarters.
Jawara told the Court that at the NIA headquarters, one man who was masked, came to the place where they were, and dragged them one after the other to a dark place; that the man started with Lamin Marong, then Fatou Camara and finally herself. She said their faces were covered and they could not see them.
“Do you know the person who tied your face?” asked prosecutor Combeh Gaye.
She responded that it was the tall masked man; that her face was tied immediately she reached the dark place they took her.
Jawara said she was laid on a table and her hands and legs was stretch by some men and they started beating her up; that she was beaten until she could no longer do anything; that those who were beating her were many, and could not recognize them because her face was tied. She told the Court that she could hear them call names.
“I had them call names like Tamba and others, who I cannot remember,” she said.
She added that the beating started around midnight till the early hours of the morning. Jawara told the Court that after the first beating, they were taken to another room where they met some people who sat in a panel; that there were some chairs and a camera man who was standing in front of them; that they were asked some question.
She said she cannot recall the number of people who were among the panel; that she was out of her mind and during the beating she collapse several times. She said she was forced to sit and explain but was not able to do so; that then she was dragged outside and beaten again; that she was then taken to another room.
“Do you know the person who dragged you outside?” asked prosecutor Combeh Gaye.
Jawara responded that they were many, and that they took her to another small room but before they reach, they beat her outside on the ground.
Hearing continues today at 1 pm.