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TRRC: Man jailed for 9 years without trial preaches forgiveness

The 25th witness before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission

Mafugie Sonko is the private soldier who drove Lt Abdoulie (Dot) Faal and Basiru Barrow to Yundum Barracks the night they were arrested, to be executed later.

Mafugie Sonko, the 26th witness before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission

Mafugie Sonko, a private Gambian soldier who was implicated in the November 11, 1994 planned coup, has told the Truth Commission investigating the former ruler Yahya Jammeh that he was jailed for 9 years without a single court appearance.

Sonko, Commission’s 26th witness, was arrested with senior officials such as Lt. Abdoulie Faal and Lt. Basiru Barrow. The two became involved in the batch of soldiers who were later executed.

The soldiers had reportedly organized a counter coup to dethrone former ruler Yahya Jammeh and his colleagues who have overthrown a democratically elected Government of Dawda Kairaba Jawara on July 22, 1994.

According to various testimonies before the Commission, the counter coup was conceived by several soldiers who were disgusted at the deteriorating human rights situation in the country and the corruption of the junta leaders whose promises were that they have come to end corruption.

But the junta was aware of the counter coup in advance and attacked the defenseless soldiers capturing them. Several of them were captured and killed. Sonko was among the lucky ones. He was taken to Mile 2 and locked for 9 years.

However, he told the Commission on Tuesday that his ordeal was ordained by Allah and that he forgave all those to tortured and abused his rights.

“Whatever happened has happened and we must forgive… I have to forgive and accept that all of us are the same people,” said Sonko.

Sonko was arrested on November 11, 1994 and was released in 2003. He was though being paid his salary but he was later dismissed from the army without following proper procedure and his benefits were not paid to him.

Sonko was the driver who took Lt Dot Faal and his colleagues to Yundum from Fajara. They have found an ambush laid for them by soldiers among them Peter Singhateh and Sanna Sabally.

They were captured and tortured. He said he had no knowledge of any coup and had no idea what was happening.

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