Pa Modou Sarr has admitted to participating in physically torturing Warrant Officer Class II (WO2) Baboucarr Sanyang, describing his conduct as “regretful” and apologizes to his victims.
Joining the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) in 1991, Sarr confessed to taking part in a torture session of the former Junta Vice-Chairman, Sana Sabally and former Interior Minister Lieutenant, Sadibou Hydara during their detention at Mile 2 prison in 1995.
According to Sarr, he was on standby at the Quick Response Mission (QRM) at State House when he was called by Sergeant Malafi Corr to join a mission he had no prior knowledge of. He later named WO2 Alagie Martin as the head of the mission, Corporal Omar Ndure, Almamo Manneh, and Lamin ‘Assassin’ Senghore as members of the five-man team.
“Martin was the leader of the group and this was in the morning around 11. When the vehicle was started, Omar Ndure was the driver and we got out of State House, but I didn’t know where we were going until we reached at Mile 2 gate. Martin was having a plastic bag with him and we have our rifles. The prison officers opened the gate, we entered. They opened the door, and then another door to the security room and we entered. This was where Sana Sabally was.”
He goes on to testify that Malafi instructed him to be on guard at the last door. According to Sarr, he later saw Sana being brought out of the room with his hands cuffed from behind.
“They brought him and told him to sit down on the floor. That was the time they started putting plastic bag over his head. Malafi was doing that. At some point they will remove that and Martin would be asking Sana a question like, ‘you wanted to overthrow the chairman?’, Sana would say ‘…negative’. This is something they wouldn’t like. Martin would order again to put the plastic bag over his head. The purpose was for him to confess”.
Sarr continued to describe the episode.
“It is very painful. If nylon bag is placed over your head for some time, the person will collapse. That’s torturing. The purpose was for him to say that he was trying to overthrow the chairman. Anytime they remove it he will say he was not trying to overthrow him. When one was doing, others will be kicking him with their boots, slapping him. Even Martin had beaten him.”
But Sarr himself denies physically torturing Sana Sabally though he still finds himself culpable. “I didn’t touch Sana. I was guarding.”
Sarr alleges that Martin gave the orders for the torture, but he is not sure if Martin had actually participated in physically torturing Sana and others. However, he confirmed that Sana was tortured in the front of Martin.
“He did shout because it was painful. Maybe he can suffer injuries. The entire torture session can last for 30 minutes or so. He was taken in and others were brought in. Sadibou was next and the same thing happened to him. It was only Martin who gave orders because he was the most senior.”
For the torture Sarr admits to participating in the physical tourture of WO2 RSM Baboubacarr Sanyang who was the third victim of the day.
“That’s the time Corr called for me to join. He gave me a plastic bag and asked me if I had seen how they were doing it to others. I said yes. I never wanted to, but I had to do it. It was there [the plastic] for seconds and Martin asked me to remove it. He asked the same questions and Sanyang said he didn’t try to overthrow the chairman.”
He acknowledged that executing such orders was illegal, but insists that he had no choice considering the circumstances. He said failure to comply could have resulted in dangerous consequences.
In his testimony, Sana confirmed that he, Sarr, had never tortured him physically, though he remembers him always standing guard by the door. However, Sarr testifies that he was only on guard for one of the sessions and never returned with torturers as he was later transferred to plain-clothes section.
“Anytime I think about this I am very regretful. I left the army after my term – six years. We are all the same, why should we be torturing somebody? I never apologized to my victims before. Sana was not here, but for Baboucarr I felt that there could be consequences – he might me angry. Definitely I regret it and I would apologize for him to forgive me”.
Asked if he is proud of his conduct Sarr replies, “I am not proud. How can I be proud of this? I told you that’s why I left the army at a very young age with a rank.”