Captain Bubacarr Bah of the Gambia Armed Forces has apologised to veteran politician and former minister, Omar Amadou Jallow alias OJ for torturing him in the aftermath of the July 1994 military coup.
On Monday February 28, OJ gave a chilling account at the TRRC of how Captain Bah continuously tortured him during his detention at Fajara Barracks.
“He was the one who deliberately beat me in my eye and broke my eye.”
OJ also told the commission that Bah, a Sergeant at the time, would come to his cell every morning to tell him they are waiting for instructions to kill him and his fellow detainees, cut them into pieces and throw them to the dogs.
A week after OJ’s testimony, the TRRC invited Captain Bah to testify. Dressed in full military uniform, he admitted punching OJ ‘in the stomach’ after a superior soldier had told him that the veteran politician was conniving with Europeans to bring mercenaries to The Gambia to overthrow the military junta.
“So I came close to him and punched him in his stomach. Then he bent down and I started hitting him with my hands,” Captain Bah told the commission. “I was hitting him mercilessly on almost all parts of his body, especially his head and then the feet and the body. He fell down and I kicked him, also hitting him. So this lasted for a while. I was concentrating on him because of what I was told about him”.
With his hands in his face in what appeared to be a sign of emotion, Captain Bah apologised to OJ, his family and the nation for his role in the torture. He blamed his decision on his age, level of experience and gullibility.
He informed the commission of his intention to apply for amnesty. The TRRC has no mandate to grant amnesty but could make recommendations for amnesty.
Rights groups, including Amnesty International, on many occasions accused members of the Armed Forces torturing detainees during the former regime.
The Chronicle asked the Army Spokesman, Major Lamin Sanyang if the Gambia Armed Forces had any policy on torture by its personnel, but he said he didn’t know and that he would ask his superiors.