Former Gambia head of state Yaya Jammeh has been accused of issuing directives for the beating of inmates doing time at Mile II.
A facility built to serve as correction centre turned overnight to a torture chamber of political foes during Jammeh’s 22-year reign.
Countless prisoners detained there have often had woeful tales to tell while some died or got manhandled, gruesome details being dug up by a rights violations probing commission unravels.
Debuting before the hearing televised by a private TV, Lamin Korta, an erstwhile worker at the prison services, revealed Jammeh unlawfully ordered detention of his political foes including their torture some of whom were business moguls.
“The prison services from 1994 became a punishment centre until in 2016. Before it used to help reform lot of prisoners. There are a lot of people who passed through there but you wouldn’t believe they’ve gone through the system because they were completely reformed. However, that changed in 1994,” the 61-year-old ex-worker said.
In the West Coast Region-born’s account, the facility broke away from its tradition of reforming inmates to being rocked by bad management with cells in deteriorating conditions and prisoners placed under poor diet.
A supposed correction centre Jammeh boastfully labelled his “five-star hotel”, TRRC commissioners also heard of how Jammeh used prison services head David Colley as his stooge carrying out tortures on specific inmates.
“If the president (Yaya Jammeh) can say to people if they’re “not careful they will go to his five star hotel” that means he has David Colley helping him. Personalities were brought whom prison officers had a parlance for called “big fish”. Often David Colley will use statements like “the big man said you standby. Meaning officers there should prepare a cell or the remand wing to host a perceived enemy of Jammeh. Prisoners are beaten and David Colley helped him (Jammeh) in that regard,” Korta, who joined the prison services in 1977 and part of the first trained batch of the centre, said.
“Jammeh will not come to the State House but he used people in the prison and he will use David Colley to implement his orders,” he continued, revealing personnel were planted to monitor prison officers and inmates – a thing in Korta’s version of events, laid the ground for mistrust and suspicion among prison workers.