“Their bodies and faces were swollen, and some had broken hands,” Ex-MP Describes Conditions of Mile 2 Prisoners
Former ruling APRC lawmaker Demba Dem Monday gave graphic details of the conditions of ‘tortured’ detainees at the Mile 2 prison in 2006.
The MP from Sami Constituency was jailed in Mile 2 after he was arrested for allegedly taking part in the March 2006 alleged coup plot led by the then army chief Ndure Cham. Testifying before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission via Skype, Dem recalled meeting detainees including army officer Bunja Darbo, Retired Major Lie Conteh, one Lang Conteh and Omar Camara, a parliamentarian from Kantora constituency. He told the commission that all the detainees he met at Mile 2 were subjected to degrading treatments during their incarceration.
“When I arrived at Mile 2 I found the condition of the detainees very bad. Some were seriously beaten and tortured. You can see their bodies swollen, faces swollen and some had broken hands,” said Dem.
He testified that the detainees were ‘seriously’ tortured by jungulars, ex-president Yahya Jammeh’s notorious special guards.
Dem also narrated his own torture by security guards after they picked him up from the prison in the late hours of 28th March, 2006.
“They (the junglars) came to collect me at my cell at the maximum security wing number 5. They took me to the prison’s reception center before they boarded me in a tinted white Pajero vehicle that headed to the NIA office in Banjul,” he told the TRRC.
“The soldiers who came for me were all in black, their heads all covered. We used to call them black black, but they are now called jungulars.”
He testified that he was handcuffed and bundled into the waiting vehicle, and escorted by armed soldiers.
“Some were carrying bayonets, machetes, grenade launchers and rocket launchers attached to the car. They were armed with everything,” Dem told the TRRC.
He testified that he was tortured at the headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), adding that he found TRRC witness Alagie Martin and a team of soldiers at the NIA drinking alcohol and singing and dancing.
“I found them drinking local alcohol and even pouring alcohol on their heads. I think this is why Alagie Martin told counsel Faal (TRRC Lead Counsel) that he did not recognise me at the panel. It’s because they were drunk,” he said.
Dem denied taking part in any coup attempt, suggesting that his arrest, detention and incarceration may be as a result of his rejection of the government’s Media Commission Bill and the Indemnity Act that were tabled before the House of Parliament.
He said prior to his arrest in 2006, he was summoned many times at the NIA for voting against bills sent to the parliament by then president Jammeh. Dem told the TRRC that he voted against bills that he felt were in the interest of just the president and not the Gambian people. Such bills include a supplementary bill that sought to increase salaries of the president and his ministers.