Personnel at the Gambia State Central Prison have been accused of killing prisoners.
In a chilling testimony to ghastly treatments meted out to prisoners, Soriba Conde, a prominent leader at the correction centre, said officers’ negligence caused deaths of inmates.
Narrating to commissioners how a next door inmate was unattended after collapsing leading to his eventual death, the 40-year-old, jailed for 14 years said: “Officers are killers. They will lock up prisoners in their cells and go away with the keys. During those times, anything could happen or an emergency can happen to prisoners and they could die.”
He continued: “Dennis died like that. I heard a noise from a close cell. Denis used to suffocate. We shouted but the officers in charge had gone with the keys. It’s a possibility he might have had a recurrence of breathing difficulty but no one came until the following day. I stayed awake that night to know what happened. Later they (the officers) came with a warden and a medic. They realised Dennis had died so when they came to collect a stretcher to get the corpse, I knocked my cell door. All other prisoners knocked their cell doors in protest of the situation. The Officers ran away.”
Elucidating further, an erstwhile driver, Soriba told of how another prisoner Malang Sonko got paralyzed upon being battered by officers of the facility.
Arrested in 2007 for burglary little after leading jail breaks in Guinea Conakry and Senegal where he was also held, the father-of-one revealed he was coerced into testifying against then Police IGP Ensa Badjie when the later fell out with Yaya Jammeh because he feared for his life – a thing he offers an apology for.
Telling a televised hearing how prison personnel Ebrima Jammeh and Yaya Jarju -figures he described as sadistic – oversaw humiliation of inmates, Soriba said he was rendered deflated on the accusation of being in possession of cannabis.
“They (the two aforesaid officers) used to chain prisoners for two years. Ebrima Jammeh (related with former president Yaya Jammeh’s late mother Asombe Bojang) and his group beat me until he fed me with sand and removed my front teeth at the headquarters,” he said in a marathon testimony ending minutes ago.