By Ousman A. Marong
Mafugi Sonko, an ex-private soldier in the Gambia National Army Tuesday told members of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that on November 11, 1994 the arrested soldiers including him, were separated into groups, while awaiting execution.
According to him, over 13 soldiers were put in a military truck from Fajara Barracks and escorted to Yundum Barracks where they were to be executed.
“One of the soldiers named Dot Faal was whisked away from the group of 13 soldiers who were set for execution,” he explained.
Sonko made these revelations at the Dunes Hotel in Kololi while continuing his testimony at the ongoing Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission.
He said the soldiers were lined-up in groups according to ranks from corporal to sergeants and lieutenants, etc.
Mafugi Sonko further revealed that when Dot Faal was shot during the mass firing execution, he was not death at first and was breathing slowingly until the soldiers finished him up. He said Lieutenant L.F Jammeh and two other soldiers whose names he could’t remember, escaped at the Yundum Barracks during the execution. Sonko also confirmed that Basiru Barrow was shot to death during the second round of shooting by the firing squad.
He highlighted that the council members ordered Gumbo Lowe to collect the death bodies with his truck, adding that Lieutenant Dot Faal and four others were packed in Gumbo Lowe’s truck. He said Dot Faal was not completely death, because he (Mafugi Sonko) saw him (Dot Faal) breeding in slow motion.
“I personally helped to put some death bodies in Gumbo Lowe’s truck, and all my clothes were stained with blood.” He alleged that Ewdard Singhateh ordered them to gather the death bodies.
Sonko further revealed that five of the soldiers who were executed at the Yundum Barracks, were buried in the same ditch at the Yundum Barracks behind the officers’ mess (cook house). He disclosed that Edward Singhateh, Batch Samba Jallow, Sadibou Hydara, Baboucarr Jatta, and some others were both present during the execution. He further recalled that Corporal Omar Njie and Gibril Saye both were shot in their legs. He said Corporal Omar Njie was sent to prison with a broken leg.
Narrating his ordeal in prison, Sonko said that he had spent 9 years in prison. “I was taken to a court martial together with Sanna Sabally, and it was after the court martial I was released from prison. I was released from prison in 2003,” he stated.
He recalled that David Colley, (former prison boss) brought him a military uniform while in prison and informed him about his release the following day.
“I was asked to wash my prison cloths because I was to be released the next day,” he said. He pointed out that there was a day in prison when inmates decided to embark on a demonstration simply, because David Colley informed them that food was completely finished from prison stores.