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TRRC: Fatou Bensouda charged me treason, says witness

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The Commission’s twelfth witness had broken into tears several times as he narrated his ordeal in detention following the 1994 coup. Batch Samba Jallow was among the civilians who were arrested following the coup.

The twelfth witness before the Truth Commission probing the human rights violations of the former dictator Yahya Jammeh has said he was charged with treason by Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court then Gambia’s prosecutor, even though it was evident there was no case to answer.

Batch Samba Jallow was arrested following the coup on allegations that he was planning a coup against the junta with the Americans.

In addition to top security officials and senior Government officials, Jallow was among the first civilians to have been arrested following the coup.  

A former primary school headmaster, Jallow was reportedly tortured and detained for several months in three different locations: National Intelligence Agency, Fajara Barracks and Kotu Police Station.

At both Fajara and NIA cells, the conditions were horrible, according to Jallow. Jallow was picked up from his house in Bakoteh Estate on October 12.

He had no idea why he was arrested. However, he said he was told on the way by the security officials that they work for Jammeh and will deal with anybody who disobeys him.

He said four people— Daba Marenah, Musa Kinteh, Foday Barry and Baba Saho— were the ones who arrested and dragged him to a waiting car.

His children were panicked, crying for a help that would never come. He was taken to NIA headquarters in Banjul where he was locked at Bamba Dinka number 2. He said he was subjected to various forms of torture and denied food and water.

He was also forced to drink his urine while in detention at Mile 2.

“I was kept at Bamba Dinka number 2…, a small place with no light. There is a small hole through which you can know when it is night or day,” said Jallow.

He would later be taken to Kotu Police Station and then Fajara Barracks where he was subjected to similar condition.

Jallow shared cells with prominent people including Omar Jallow and Ousainou Darboe.

“The condition in this cell (Fajara) was terrible. There was no ventilation and we were there for 14 months. I saw OJ in Fajara with a bleeding eye. I also saw Ousainou Darboe there…,” said Jallow.

Jallow had earlier rejected an offer to serve as a National Assembly member for Niamina Dankunku.

This was an offer placed to him by one Captain Momodou Bojang, a one-time governor of Central River Region, he said.

He said he may have been targeted because of his refusal to take that offer or his open criticism of the junta at the time.

He was charged to court but the case could not go. He was eventually released from detention from where he fled the country for United States where his asylum was accepted.

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