Castrated, Electrocuted and Forced to Eat Feces: Sana Sabally’s Alleged Hellish Prison Ordeal
After a day’s marathon testimony Wednesday about the July 22, 1994 military coup and the November 11, 1994 summary execution of alleged coup plotters, Sana Bairo Sabally returned to the witness stand at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission Thursday to give chilling accounts of what was meted out to him in jail.
Sabally, the first Vice Chairman of the then ruling AFPRC military junta, was arrested and sentenced to nine years in jail along with Sadibu Hydara more than two decades ago for allegedly attempting to kill the junta leader Yahya Jammeh.
In his testimony, Sabally rubbished that allegation and told the TRRC that he was arrested because he wanted the AFPRC to hand over power to civilians at the end of a six-month term, contrary to Jammeh’s alleged plan to stay put. He said he was arrested after he turned up at State House for what was supposed to be a meeting with Jammeh.
“When I arrived at the corridor, they disarmed me, brought me down and tied my hands and legs. Shortly, Sadibou also walked into the same trap and was arrested. Then we were marched through the back door into a waiting vehicle to Mile 2.”
Sabally would spend the next many years at the Mile 2 central prison where he said he was regularly tortured in different forms by a team led by Alagie Martin, now a Brigadier General in the Gambia Armed Forces. According to him, Martin and his men visited Mile 2 at least twenty times and on each occasion he was tortured by them after they failed to get him to make false confession that he had attempted to kill Chairman Jammeh. He named Lance Corporal Lamin Senghore, Malafi Corr, P.M Sarr and Ndure as other members of the team.
“They’d always come with a tape recorder. One day they came with a bucket of water. I was in two handcuffs and two shackles. I was naked. They covered my face with Piccadilly bag and soaked my head in the water. I later I realized that the water was acidic,” he told the commission.
Sabally said the torturers used hammer to hit him at every part of his body. “There is no part of my body that they had not beaten with the hammer. Another night they came, I was buried up to my neck just to have me speak out. This happened two or three times. Sadibou was not buried alive but I was. This was in the prisons yard.”
Giving even more graphic details of how he was tortured, Sabally narrated that Martins and his men forced him to defecate and eat his own feces. He told the commission that he tried to defecate but couldn’t do it. At this juncture, he added, the torturers brought feces from elsewhere and he was forced to eat it.
He also explained how Martin and his colleagues “took a long pin and put it right inside my penis and same was done to Sadibu right in front of me.” He told the TRRC that the men asked him and Hydara to wear g-string underwear and engage in homosexual act. He added that they were tortured after refusing to make love to each other.
With his head buried in his hands and tears dropping down his cheeks, Sabally explained how the men castrated him and Hydara, suggesting that Hydara’s death in custody was as a result of the castration.
In his final statement, Sabally asked for forgiveness and said he has forgiven those who tortured him as well as those who gave orders for his torture.
He described his time in jail as a lesson for him. “I came out of prison not bitter, but better.”
Sabally praised the setting up of the TRRC and called on former AFPRC colleagues; Yahya Jammeh, Yankuba Touray and Edward Singhatey to appear before the TRRC and speak the truth.