By Momodou Jarju
Brigadier General Alagie Martin Thursday confessed his participation with colleagues in torturing soldiers arrested in 2006 for attempting to overthrow the government.
Martin said they tortured the captured alleged coupists to extract confessions from them which were desired by ex-President Jammeh no matter what it takes. He confessed that the statements obtained were fraudulent.
Testifying yesterday June 20, 2019, before the truth commission (TRRC) probing the human rights violations perpetrated by the previous regime, Martin said his role was to be the eyes and ears of ex-President Jammeh and the purpose of the panel was to establish the truth about the coup.
The coup planned on March 21, 2006 was leaked and foiled, and subsequently led to over 70 arrests including soldiers and civilians.
Martin said the “junglers” (the alleged ex-President Jammeh’s hit squad) were responsible for arresting and transporting the captives to Mile II before they were taken to the NIA where they were mishandled.
He said if the person refuses to speak the “junglers” would take them to a separate place, torture them and then return them to the panel to write their confessions before being paraded before the state television to make their confessions.
He said Almamo Manneh, Musa Jammeh and himself were Jammeh’s observers and the junglers” were Tumbul Tamba, Nuha Badgie, Momodou Jarju (Rambo), Micheal Sang Coria, etc.
Martin said he doesn’t know that the NIA brought in people to serve as independent witnesses to the confessions extracted, adding that he doesn’t know that it is unlawful to obtain a confession by force through torture and use it at the court of law.
Martin agreed that they falsified evidence to implicate Lieutenant Colonel Bunja Darboe, one of the coupists, to confess but denied giving him a pen and paper to write a so-called coup speech. He said they knew that there was no coup speech but they forced him to write one.
He denied Bunja Darboe’s allegation that he assaulted and backslapped him while he was being questioned. He said Darboe was taken out of the panel by the “junglers”, tortured and then brought back to the panel to confess.
“You must say something or else you dance to the tune,” he disclosed.
Martin said the atmosphere then was intimidating and acknowledges Bunja Darboe’s suggestions that about 30 people were present in the hall.
In his testimony, Martin persisted in saying he only saw the civilians when they were making their confessions not during the interrogation. He said he was strictly dealing with the soldiers not civilians.
During the first part of his testimony, Martin denied ordering his team to place a plastic bag over Sabally’s head but accepted in the second part. He also admitted torturing Lt. Sabally after insisting in the first part that it was just a beating. He also denied the suggestions that Sadibou died as a result of the torture meted out to him. He said the mode of operation at the NIA was to torture if one refuses to speak.
Lt. Sanna Sabally’s Arrest
Martin said they were given orders to arrest Lt. Sabally (ex-vice chairman of the AFPRC) in early 1995 because he intended to overthrow the junta. He claimed that Lt. Sabally was arrested at State House at his office corridor leading to ex-President Jammeh’s office and that Musa Jammeh, led the operation and not Edward Singhatey as previous witnesses suggested.
Martin said Jammeh said he did not want any gun shot, which made the operation difficult. He added that Malafi Corr, Almamo Manneh, himself etc. participated in the beating of Lt. Sabally.
He said Lt. Sabally refused to talk when he was interrogated by Musa Jammeh, Almamo Manneh, Omar Ndure, Malafi Corr and himself and other officers from the army and denied the allegations by Ebrima Chongan that he was having a hammer. Several other witnesses, who appeared before the truth commission, said his team brought electric materials when they were interrogated but he denied the allegations.
Martin said Lt. Sabally was beaten mercilessly which he said was wrong and begged for his forgiveness, saying the beating was part of the interrogation process then. Speaking further, he said the following day, the second investigation with Lt. Sabally; Malafi Corr, Lamin Senghor (Assassin), Almamo Manneh, Omar Ndure, Pa Modou Sarr and others were part of the interrogation. He said they butt struck, kicked and slapped him, but did not put plastic over Lt. Sabally’s head but on Babucarr Sanyang’s. At first, he said he never met Sadibou but later he said he was present when Musa Jammeh was interrogating him.
Martin has meanwhile admitted torturing Sadibou Hydara and RSM Jammeh and begged for their forgiveness and their families. He said it was not their will, saying it was a military regime that gave birth to torturing and killings.
He claimed that lack of discipline and the mindset of the army was the problem which caused torturing and killings. He however blamed ex-President Jammeh and themselves for the atrocities they meted out to victims during the 22 years reign of the former regime. It was the situation they found on the ground, he said.
“We made big mistakes at the time. We are human… we made serious mistakes, terrible mistakes at the time under Jammeh,” he said, adding that he was young at the time.
Read Foroyaa on Monday for more on Alagie Martin’s testimony.