Brigadier General Alhagie Martin has confessed that he took part in ‘mercilessly beating’ former AFPRC military junta Vice Chairman Sana Sabally in Mile 2 Central Prison, but denied ‘torturing’ him.
Martin, still one of the most senior members of the Gambia Armed Forces, has been adversely mentioned by several Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission witnesses over his alleged participation in tortures. Among them was that of Sabally in 1995 during his incarceration for alleged coup plot.
In his morning testimony, Thursday, Martin explained how he and other soldiers arrested Sabally in January 1995.
“We were given directive that he wanted to take over the country and so we should arrest him like the others. We arrested him. He resisted arrest and we had to beat him. We beat him,” he told the commission.
Martin also told the TRRC that on the night of Sabally’s detention at Mile 2, he led a team of security officers to the prison to interrogate him. Other team members included Manlafi Corr, Almamo Manneh and Omar Ndure. Martin confessed that Sabally was ‘mercilessly beaten’ by him and his colleagues for refusing to talk.
“The Chairman (Yahya Jammeh) asked me to do a follow-up investigation on Sana to make sure we find out those who were part of his plan. He was questioned and he refused to talk. We found him in his cell – security wing number 2. We beat him.”
Asked by Lead Counsel Essa Faal if he and his colleagues tortured Sabally, Martin maintained they beat him but didn’t torture him.
“This is the classic definition of torture. What do you say?” asked Faal.
“We beat him. Beatings happen everywhere,” Martin responded. “It wasn’t our wish to do so, but we had to. It was the situation. When we interrogate people and they refuse to talk we have to beat them.”
Martin admitted torture was an integral part of interrogation at the time, but refused to accept to use ‘torture’ in the case of Sabally’s beating.
“It’s 100% wrong and I apologize for that. This was an instruction to interrogate Sana. At that time when we asked you and you refuse to talk, you must be beaten. That was how the situation was at that time, Counsel.”