Foday Barry, a former Foday Barry, a former head of investigations at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on Tuesday told the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) that he was an investigator in the team that queried the 2006 Ndure Cham foiled coup d’état. Foday Barry admitted to the Commission that “it is true, there were tortures during the Investigations”.
Foday Barry said he can’t remember whether Demba Sowe was among the torturers. He said on one occasion he was kept at Mile2 prisons because of his attempts to stop the torture sessions on the alleged coup plotters. He added that he was the only investigator within the panel querying the coup to have complained against the torture meted on the detainees.
“When you complained, did the tortures stop?” Asked the lead Counsel Essa Faal, “No” Barry replied.
Strangely, Foday Barry who was a senior director at the National Intelligence Agency said that he doesn’t know the provisions of the law on torture to extract confessions. This prompted Counsel Faal to remind Barry that torture was a culture at the NIA and that 90% of its agents have tortured people brought in there for interrogation.
“Did you believe that it was criminal?” the Lead Counsel asked. Foday Barry replied “I know it was unlawful”.
According to the witness, it would have been suicidal on him to write something contradicting the Investigations report on the foiled Coup “Did you put in your reservation in the panel report of 2006?” asked Essa Faal. “I didn’t even know that there was a report because I was taken to Mile2, lead Counsel” Foday Barry said.
Lead counsel Faal further put it to Foday Barry that he has implicated his colleagues as having been complicit to torture but that he did not say for certain that those confession were illegally obtained. Mr. Barry told the Commission the reasons he did not intervene to stop the tortures was because it would have been deadly.
Foday Barry also told the Commission that he did not know the existence of the NIA safe houses. To the amazement of the TRRC commissioners, Foday Barry said that there is no place at the NIA called Bambadinka. The Lead Counsel Essa Faal put it to Foday Barry that he cannot work in a place like the NIA headquarters for 7 years and ignore the existence of a place such as the one called Bambadinka. “It would be shocking to serve the NIA for 7 years without knowing that there is Bambadinka.”
Counsel Faal told Foday Barry that his assertion on Bambadinka is the most shocking testimony received by the Commission. “You would be the first Director of Investigations who did not know Bambadinka?” Essa Faal told him. Foday Barry replie: “Like I said, I am not aware of that place”.
“Do you agree that nobody came out to say that the Investigations was not properly done and that all of you in the panel kept quiet?” Essa Faal asked. Foday Barry replied “Counsel I for one I have done my best” the witness responded.
Essa Faal told Foday Barry that the only time he had protested against torture was when another complicit to the NIA torture suffered the faith he inflicted on many people and that the torturer Foday Barry tried to save was Ousman Sonko.
Queried to which degree he could have asked the panel to stop the torture, Foday Barry said the most senior officer on the investigation panel at that time was Lang Tombong Tamba. “Would you say he bears responsibility?” Asked Faal. “I would not say that”, responded the witness
“Why would you say he is not responsible?” Essa Faal asked, “There were certain people whom I believe Lang Tombong can’t control, the likes of Musa Jammeh and Tumbul Tamba” Foday Barry replied.
“Do you think that people would have organized those torture on detainees because they just wanted to?” Essa Faal asked, “Yes, I may not know whether they got instructions from the top Foday Barry replied”.
The witness further disclosed that Yahya Jammeh, called him and told him that he needed an interim report of the alleged coup and that Jammeh directed him to go to Lang Tombong Tamba’s house to discuss the issue. “Whenever he (Yahya Jammeh) needs your service or has a problem, he listens to you” said the witness.
As Foday Barry finally admitted that Yahya Jammeh was responsible for what was going on in the NIA panel of investigators, the Lead Counsel Faal told him that it was a dereliction of duty when he failed to inform Yahya Jammeh that the people being interrogated were innocent.
“Then why did you not resign?” Essa Faal asked “I did not resign because I was trying to protect myself”
About the NIA illegally and unlawfully detaining people at Holkham, Foday Barry denied being a party to the illegal detention. However, Foday Barry said he received instructions from the late Director General Benedict Jammeh to keep the detainees there unlawfully.
On why he accepted to detain people unlawfully, foday Barry said he had no choice. But Counsel Faal told the former NIA top agent that there is no excuse for obeying unlawful orders.
On the bribery scheme for Rui Jabbie Gassama to testify against Lang Tombong Tamba, Foday Barry informed the Commission that Rui Jabbie Gassama was paid $10,000 while Ebrima Marreh received $ 60,000, Kabiro Saidy $ 35,000 respectively.
“Who made this payment?” Lead Counsel Faal asked, “Mr. Benedict Jammeh, former Director General National of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency and Pa Harry Jammeh, former Solicitor General” Foday Barry replied.
The former NIA top official said all those who implicated him in testimonies before the Commission have lied against him. He said people should believe him, that he didn’t participate in torture sessions on detainees.