Monday, 11 February 2013 17:43(JollofNews) – A former Gambian Information Minister who was jailed for trying to organise an Arab spring type of revolution in the Gambia has lifted the lid on his days in detention in the country.
Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh, 50, who holds dual Gambian and American citizenship, was sentenced to life in prison in January 2012 by a court in Banjul after being found guilty for sedition and treason.
He was however released and expelled from the country in September 2012 after the intervention of US civil rights activist, Reverend Jesse Jackson.
The former University of Tennessee political science lecturer, who served as Information minister in the Gambia from April 2004 to July 2005, was arrested in June 2011 with three others by state security agents after printing and distributing T-shirts bearing the slogan 'Coalition for Change the Gambia, End to Dictatorship Now’.
Commenting on his Facebook page, Dr Janneh who is currently writing a book on his arrest and detention at the notorious Mile Two Prisons wrote: "For two nights, from June 5-7, 2011, I was essentially abandoned in the tiny cell [at the Old Airport Terminal Building]. Except for the patrolling guards that came by to see if I was still alive, no one else was permitted near me.
“I got a cup of tea with half a loaf of bread ("tapalapa") for breakfast and a sandwich or plate of rice stew in the evening. I received very limited quantities of drinking water, in three small plastic pouches every day. I was also allowed only ten minutes a day out of the cell to be escorted to a toilet in an adjacent building. My toothpaste and toothbrush were seized from me, and I was refused permission to take a bath.
“Even a pair of slippers I used to lay my head on was confiscated. I used empty plastic bottles to urinate in, but previous occupants may not have had that luxury, as virtually the entire floor was covered with urine. A television set was kept blasting all night while mosquitoes feasted on my flesh. Alas, when both mind and body are stretched to the limit, no pest or discomfort can prevent one from sleeping."
Dr Janneh said after his arrest, security officers tried to force him to reveal the identities of his accomplices.
"I insisted that I was the only one involved and that I would not be commenting on any of their suggestions or cooperating with the investigations unless I had access to a US diplomat or my lawyer.
“Bakebba Suso [one of the officers] pointed out that they were not bound to respect that or any other rights. "We can keep you for more than 72 days if we want and nothing will come out of it."
Wassa Touray [another officer] added. "Your cooperation in getting to the bottom of this matter will determine your fate. You don't know the kind of serious offence you have committed."
“Two of the highest ranking officers at the PIU [Police Intervention Unit] joined the panel. One of them started taunting me and made insensitive remarks about the Mandinka to get a reaction from me. I did not fall for his trap. Instead, I just ignored him and kept asking for my lawyer and the US consul."
Commenting on the execution by a firing squad of nine death row inmates which took place while he was in prison, Dr Janneh wrote: “Lamin Darboe, Alieu Bah, Lamin Jarju, and Lamin F Jammeh were removed from Building No. 1; Gibril Bah from Building No. 4; and, Dawda Bojang, Malang Sonko, and Abubacar / Buba Yarbo from Building No. 5.
“We later learned that Tabara Samba was taken from the Female Wing. Darboe offered some resistance, but he was overpowered, chained, and led away. As he was being dragged out at about 9:20 pm, he yelled my name saying: "Amadou, they are going to execute us!" He was silenced somehow, and the only things I heard from then on were the sounds of leg irons and the heavy metal gates being opened and shut. I peeped through an opening on my cell door and saw Dawda Bojang being taken away as well."
The Gambia Government has since maintained that the executions were conducted according to the laws of the country. However, the bodies of the executed prisoners are yet to returned to their families for burial and the state is yet to explain what has happened to their bodies.
Written by PK Jarju
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