Witness electrocuted, denied water, drank own blood

Witness electrocuted, denied water, drank own blood

A witness in the ongoing trial of Ousman Sonko, former Minister in charge of security under Yahya Jammeh, on Tuesday told the court in Bellinzona, Switzerland, that he was tortured by means of electrocution and other degrading treatments before appearing in front of an investigation panel.

When he was thirsty and asked for water to drink, he was denied. So he had to drink his own blood as a result just to ingest fluid that his body badly needed after that experience.

The witness (name withheld) was arrested on April 14, 2016 in a peaceful march for electoral reforms in The Gambia,  along with Solo Sandeng and others. Most of those arrested were opposition activists. They were rounded up and taken away to the infamous National Intelligence Agency, where torture was administered on them, resulting in the death of activist Solo Sandeng. The empanelled investigation team comprised Ousman Sonko who currently stands trial for these crimes.

“They placed me on the table and tied me. The Junglers came. They beat me up until I could not hear myself crying. They untied me and beat me on my arm. The mark is still here…,” the witness said, pointing at his limb where healed wounds bear scars of his experience at the hands of the torturers.

After such an experience, victims are usually cooperative to say, do or confess to any crime the investigators want them to. In his case, he said he was taken outside to an area covered with Bahamas grass. He was asked to confess to mobilising people at Kombo South to protest against Jammeh.

His torture experience did not stop there. They also administered electricity on his genitals. “When they electrocuted me, I screamed, and they were laughing,” he recounted, saying it was all done while his feet were put in a container filled with cold water. This allows the shock waves to have deeper effect on a victim’s body into the skeletal. When the torturers were satisfied, they took him to his cell before he appeared in front of the investigation panel.

“At the panel, I saw interior minister Ousman Sonko. I [also] saw the director of NIA. So, they asked us the reason we demonstrated,” he told the court. He could not remember how many people were at the panel but Sonko was distinct among the security officials including those from the NIA and the Police.

“And the NIA’s Operations Commander was there,” he said. “I heard the Interior Minister [Ousman Sonko] say, ‘anyone who plays with the President, vultures will make you their dinner’.”

The witness told the court that Ousman Sonko was so close to Yahya Jammeh as Interior Minister. And that in every country, such a position holder as interior minister was very powerful and in-charge of the country: “What is clear is that the Junglers were answerable to Yahya Jammeh. But the security council, Ousman Sonko is a part of it. And he is very close to Yahya Jammeh.”

Human rights groups like Amnesty International had decried widespread acts of torture as a weapon of the authorities in the Jammeh regime against supposed opponents in The Gambia. This was confirmed by an official of the Gambia Prison Services this week, who testified that torture was “going on” in the prisons, where inmates from the security wing and opposition members were subjected to on regular basis.

“Well throughout my experience, some inmates would be tortured whilst they were taken away. They used to come and beat them and when you did ask, they would say they were taken to the NIA. Most of the time, the Junglers would come there. They would pick inmates to the NIA and when they brought them back, you would know that this guy had gone through something,” he said, maintaining that Ousman Sonko was fully aware of these acts as minster.

Source: The Point

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