Mile II ‘Chief Torturer’ Confesses to Beating Inmates
Ebrima Jammeh, a name resounded repeatedly at the ongoing truth-telling commission by inmates has confessed to torturing at least two prisoners and denying others.
Several prisoners including Lamin Jah, Soriba Conde, Baba Galleh Jallow and some prison officers labelled him as the ‘chief torturer’ who led a team of torturers that include Malang Tamba and Muhammed Jabbie.
Testifying on Thursday at the TRRC, E Jammeh, as he was fondly called, has also accepted superior responsibility even though it had to take several minutes of exchange with lead counsel to accept him being accomplice for failing to punish his subordinates.
Giving account of that encounter, he explained that when he was newly appointed as Commissioner of Operations at Mile II, he embarked on cell visitations being accompanied by Malang, who was responsible for prisoners as Chief Officer including the main yard and the security wing.
Along the way, he testified that Malang was called at the headquarters and therefore sought permission from him to leave the prison tour.
“I accepted and let him go. I continued my visit and started from the security wing number 1 to 7, and ended it at number 5. When I reached number 5, it coincided with the prisoners’ break time.
“I started exchanging chats with them [prisoners]. That was the time Samba Doro Bah told me their television had taken away. I told him I am aware of it and I will engage the Director General. At that point, Lamin Jah came in and was accusing me that I was possibly the one who ordered for the TV to be taken.
“I was not happy with his remarks and ordered the officers to take him back to his cell. Soriba rushed in angrily, insulting me and said, who am I to ask for Lamin Jah to be taken back to the cell. I ordered officers to take him also to his cell. I ended my tour there and went back to my office.”
However, he recalled a push and pull that ensued between the officers and Soriba Conde before he left for refusing to be taken to his cell, in which himself was involved until his uniform’s shirt button was removed.
“I later heard of it [referring to torture of Soriba]. It was rumoured that Malang had beaten Conde. I called to enquire from Tamba and he didn’t deny it. He appealed to me that he did it out of anger and he apologized. I warned him that he must not do such a thing,” he said.
“The beating was unlawful [by Malang]. It was unlawful because they should have taken them to the competent authority and if they found them guilty, they could charge them based on the Prisons Act. Punishment can be awarded based on the Act; he told the Commission.
He agreed that Tamba had excessively used his powers to maltreat prisoners. He said at that time, he didn’t take it that Tamba committed a crime because he regretted his action.
Jammeh also disputed that they had a special team at Mile II that conducted torture of prisoners.
“The name ‘team of torturers’ I heard of here and I am surprised too. All those officers and prisoners have lied against me.”
Some inmates who testified earlier affirming the existence of such a team had their testimonies replayed to him during the proceedings. Amongst them are, Baba Galleh Jallow, Lamin Jah and Soriba Conde. They all also confirmed that Jammeh was known as the ‘chief torturer.”
In his reaction: “I heard the testimonies and it was all false.”
He also denied physically torturing Baba Galleh Jallow but conceded that recruits were mobilized to torture him.
In what would be his confession of physically torturing inmates, Jammeh recalled a particular Thursday at Mile II when they were on parade led by the Director General of Gambia Prison Service and a report came in that a prisoner was caught with a mobile phone and drugs inside the prisons.
According to his narration, the DG had ordered a swift investigation into the matter as to how a mobile phone and drug found their way into the prison. He said as for him, the deputy director asked him to mobilize some recruits as the instructor.
“When they were asking Lamin Jah about the phone and drug issue, he said he found it on the ground. He was not cooperating and that was the time the deputy director general said if Jah is unwilling to comply to tell the truth, he should be laid down and be beaten.
“He [deputy DG] instructed the recruits to lay him on the table and be beaten. That was the time he said he would speak the truth and said the drug and mobile was given to him by Soriba Conde.
“Soriba was brought and he was denying speaking the truth. He was also laid. I took a chain from one of the recruits and beat him.”
“I participated in beating Lamin Jah and Soriba Conde. This was meant to get the truth from them regarding the mobile phone and drug. The deputy director general ordered the recruits to lay them on the table and beat them and me too, out of anger, I beat him,” he confessed.
“I apologize to all particularly Lamin Jah and Soriba Conde. I couldn’t control my emotions and anger but I regret it,” he said.
Ebrima Jammeh has been adversely mentioned in the ongoing TRRC hearing which is currently probing the excesses of the Gambia Prison Service (GPS). Since 2017, he and Malang Tamba have been serving interdiction as they are being investigated.
However, they both complained to the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission that they have not been receiving salaries even though they are either dismissed or discharged.