“Jungler” Michael Correa Remains Jailed – His Trial Date At Stand Still
Former Yahya Jammeh hit man, “Jungler” Michael Sang Correa, appeared on Thursday, in a virtual status conference hearing led by a presiding Judge in the District of Colorado, with the participation of a U.S. prosecution team and Correa’s defense counsel.
On June 2nd this year, an indictment was unsealed before U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter, in the District of Colorado, charging Michael Sang Correa with one count of conspiracy to commit torture and six counts of inflicting torture on specific individuals. This, after Michael Correa was arrested earlier in Denver.
The indictment alleges that in 2006, Michael Correa, a former member of a Gambian armed unit known as the “Junglers”, conspired with others to commit torture against individuals suspected of plotting a failed coup attempt against then-President Yahya Jammeh, and that he inflicted torture on six victims.
While serving in The Gambia military, Michael Correa was a member of the “Junglers”, a rogue unit comprised of individuals who had been selected from the ranks of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) but operated outside the regular GAF chain of command. The “Junglers” received orders from then-President Yahya Jammeh and answered to him.
The status conference held Thursday was to allow the lawyers representing the U.S. and Michael Sang Correa to discuss, with the Judge, how they anticipate the case will proceed, examine the evidence currently being gathered and likely to be presented during trial, and equally look into any other matters to be resolved before a trial date is set.
During Thursday’s virtual status conference, the prosecution team informed the judge that the Government is expecting additional materials from the yet ongoing investigation on the alleged crimes committed Michael Correa. The investigation is led by the US Homeland Security Investigation of Denver, with support from HSI agents in Dakar, Senegal as well the Diplomatic Security Service at the U.S. Embassy in Banjul and the FBI Legal Attaché in Dakar.
Another complication mentioned during the status conference is to do with getting witnesses from The Gambia to travel to the United States to participate in a trial because of the Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Michael Correa’s defense team told the judge that it hasn’t been able to go through the case’s documents it already has been given in relation with the indictment of its client. The defense has also informed that it has not been able to see Michael Correa personally due to the COVID-19 restrictions in prison and that as such, it is not in a position to effectively represent Correa, prepare pre-trial motions, and prepare for trial.
And like other parties in the status conference already mentioned it, the defense noted that numerous individuals of interest reside currently in The Gambia. According to Correa’s lawyers this explains the difficulties inherent to carrying out an investigation to track down and find individuals in The Gambia with the travel restrictions due to COVID and other safety reasons.
In fine, the defense says it cannot reliably say that the requested 180 days will be sufficient to prepare Michael Correa for trial, but the defense lawyers argued they’re ready to provide the court an update in the future. Meanwhile, the defense has hinted at filing another joint speedy trial waiver, likely to be accepted by the court.
After hearing the prosecution and the defense, the judge agreed that that it makes no sense to set motions deadline or set a date for trial.
In essence, Michael Correa continues to remain in detention while the date for a trial of his case is yet unknown. Michael Correa made his first court appearance on June 2nd 2020 before U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter in the District of Colorado.
Trial Attorney Erin Cox and Senior Counsel Christina Giffin of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Holloway of the District of Colorado are prosecuting the case with the assistance of HRSP historian Dr. Christopher Hayden and with the support of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.