By Assan Sallah
Few years ago, when the news spread out that Youssef Ezzedine alias Rambo, a death row convict has escaped from Mile II(State Central Prison of The Gambia), many were taken by surprise. Nobody had expected that he could escape from Mile II, leaving behind his former inmates with whom he was convicted together to serve a death sentence.
After his conviction on 15th July 2010, alongside 6 others, they made an appeal against the court's decision.
The other six condemned men appealed against the death sentence together, whilst Rambo appealed against the death sentence alone, with the help of Awa Sisay Sabally as his defence lawyer.
Readers would recall that Youssef Ezzedine alias Rambo and 6 others namely; Lang Tombong Tamba, former Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces; Brigardier General Omar Bun Mbaye; Lt. Col. Kawsu Camara alias Bombardier; Lamin BO Badjie, former head of the Military Intelligence Unit and one-time DG of the defunct NIA; Modou Gaye, former deputy Inspector General of Police; Gibril Ngorr Secka, former NIA attache at the Gambian Embassy in Guinea Bissau; and Abdoulie Joof alias Lie Joof, a businessman were accused of trying to organise an alleged coup plot against former Dictator Yahya Jammeh sometime in 2009.
They were arrested and detained until after four months of incarceration before could appear before the High Court in Banjul. After several months of trial, they were convicted and sentenced to death on 15th July, 2010. Later on, they appealed against the court's decision and were later sentenced to life imprisonment.
When the case resumed during the appeal process, all the appellants were present in court except him (Youssef Ezzedine) and his lawyer Awa Sisay Sabally asked the prison officer Inspector Koita about the whereabouts of her client. The prison officer responded that the said client could not appear in court due to security reasons.
It was during the said appeal process that Rambo was released from Mile II and flown out of the country with the help of some Qatari investors who met the former president Jammeh and discussed his fate. These investors who were part of a delegation that included representatives of DOOZI – the financiers of a proposed project dubbed Qatar-Gambia International Group, the developers and LACASA – the architectural consultants, made a power-point presentation of a multi-million dollar project to the former president Yahya Jammeh. They promised Jammeh that they will build a five-star hotel in The Gambia which will cover an area of 325, 473 square meters. The land area after the ICT Centre in Kololi along Senegambia highway was earmarked for the project site.
This meeting was held at the Cabinet Room of the State House in Banjul on 8th December, 2010.
According to the investors, the project will cover 7 towers, a model shopping mall, an international conference centre, a recreation facility, 19 villas and 40 presidential suites and a state-of-the-art hospital.
During the said meeting, the managing director of Qatar-Gambia International Group Abdel Nasir M. Khalil, said the project will create 10, 000 job opportunities during its implementation period.
The General Manager of DOOZI, Fatoumata Diop, said that funds were available and the project would be implemented once a contract is signed.
However, after they allegedly bribed former dictator Jammeh, Rambo was flown out of the country in a private jet at night. When the investors returned back to Qatar, Jammeh reminded them about the said project through the Gambian Embassy in Qatar but the investors responded in the negative. The said project was never implemented and Rambo escaped without anybody being arrested or blamed for his escape. Dictator Jammeh became annoyed and disappointed and he decided to close the Gambian Embassy in Qatar.
The former Gambian Ambassador to Qatar Ansumana Jammeh, who is also the former president's brother was recalled. The Embassy remained closed until recently when it was re-opened under President Barrow's government with the help of Gambia's Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Ousainou Darboe.