By Momodou Jarju
In the reproduction of David Charles Colley’s testimony held last week at the Truth Commission (TRRC), today’s part teed off in 2006 on a major scandal involving the head of the Prison Service of The Gambia that took place in the Mile II prison, situated on the outskirt of the capital Banjul.
Several witnesses who testified at the TRRC said Colley brought in a dead bull into the Mille II prison to be cooked and served to prisoners.
Colley denied the accusation leveled against him. He said he was taken to court about the dead bull scandal.
“You did not bring a dead bull to the prison,” asked Faal. “Never,” Colley responded.
So all those who said that you brought a dead bull in to the prison, carrion and serve it on the prison inmates aren’t telling the truth, Faal inquired from Colley.
Colley said he was acquitted and discharged by the court on the said allegation. He said the witness in his case, one Musa Ceesay, was charged and sentenced for six months’ imprisonment.
Asked how many people testified against him during the case, Colley said it was only Musa Suso.
Faal said that was not the reason he was acquitted, Colley responded in the negative.
“If there were other witnesses against you, the case may have changed,” Faal asked. “It is left to them,” Colley said.
Four witnesses testified before the Truth Commission that Colley brought the carrion into the prison and served it on the prisoners. He vehemently denied the allegations.
One of the witnesses, who was admitted into the prison after the incident, told the TRRC that he heard that most of the inmates who ate the carrion experienced diarrhea, while others were admitted sick.
Colley said the names that were mentioned to have suffered complications due to the alleged carrion were taken to the hospital to confirm their health status through testing of their body.
He said they confirmed that they were suffering from illnesses like high blood, diabetes, malaria, asthma, and heart failure.
Faal told Colley that it was normal then, when prisoners died in prison, they never stated the true cause of death. Colley responded indecisively.
When asked whether he knew three prisoners died on that day, according to the report the TRRC discovered, Colley responded in the negative. He said it never happened.
“Well here you have it,” Faal handed in the report to Colley. “Can I have the primary cause of their death,” Colley requested.
Colley argued that if that ever happened, the report of the death would have reached him and then he will write to his line ministry.
According to the report TRRC discovered, Malang Kanyi and Modou Sanyang died on 13 January, 2016. And Baba Galleh Jallow died on 18 January, 2006. The year and month the scandal occurred.
Colley urged the Commission to go and get the reports of the post-mortem to ascertain the primary cause of deaths.
Commenting on the executing of inmates at the Mile II prison, Colley said while the nine (9) inmates were been executed, he was sitting at home enjoying the news.
“Yes, I was enjoying it,” he explained.
But I thought that is not news to be enjoyed, is it? Faal asked.
Colley said he was not laughing at the execution, but he was happy that he was not in the system at the time.
Torture At Mile II Prison
Asked whether he allowed detainees in the prison to be tortured, Colley denied the responsibility.
Several questions were raised by Essa Faal, but Colley kept waffling answers.
According to Colley in his statement, when prisoners are found to possess materials they are not supposed to possess, they punish them.
“If they insist, try to attack the officer, they defend themselves,” he said.
Colley said sometimes they conduct random searches in the cells of the prisoners, if they found contrabands with the prisoners; they would be called and questioned about it.
He said the prisoner(s) will be charged for the offence.
Colley further said if the prisoners resisted to be searched, they would give them 12 lashes for the males and 8 lashes for the females.
“This type of punishment is sanctioned by the prison act,” Colley said in his statement.
Colley said if the prisoner is wounded during the punishment process, nothing will come out of it.
He denied the charges made by witnesses at the TRRC that prisoners were beaten behind his office. He denied this allegation too, saying “is my office a torture center.”
Meanwhile, Colley is set to reappear again before the Truth Commission to continue his testimony.