Ex-President Jammeh’s hitmen (L–R) Amadou Badjie, Omar Jallow, and Malick Jatta.

Several members of former President Yahya Jammeh’s hit squad who have revealed at the truth commission how they carried out several killings on the former president’s orders including the shooting and killing of Journalist Deyda Hydara of The Point Newspaper, suffocation of nine death row inmates with plastic bags, beheading and mutilation of two Gambian born naturalised US citizens, Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe, who went missing while on a trip to the Gambia in June 2013, and the execution of 45 Europe-bound migrants comprising nationals from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo trying to get to Europe have been released from detention.

A spokesman of the Gambian army, Major Lamin Sanyang, told Kerr Fatou online media that Malick Jatta, Omar Jallow, Pa Ousman Sanneh and Amadou Badgie were released on Saturday morning on the recommendation of the country’s minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou.

The four soldiers are among members of the Patrol Team AKA Jungulars of the State Guards who have been detained since the collapse of Mr Jammeh’s regime in 2017.

Victims of the Jammeh regime and their families have expressed their anger at the minister for granting the self-confessed hitmen their freedom.

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But  Mr Tambadou had assured Gambians that the release of the men ‘is not an amnesty’. He said the men are being afforded the same treatment as other members of the former regime  who  had also appeared at the truth commission and admitted to participating in human rights violations and abuses.

He argued that while the decision to recommend the release of the three men, who have been in custody for over two and half years now, has not been an easy one for him especially considering the victims and their mourning families, he will not shy away from making decisions because they may be unpopular.

“While we all agree that the “Junglers” are a special category of alleged perpetrators, reason they have been the only ones in custody all this time, we cannot also afford to treat similarly situated persons differently,” the minister said during a media briefing.

“We cannot treat one group of confessed perpetrators any different from another group. All those who assist the TRRC to establish the truth shall and should be treated the same way. Neither can we charge anyone including the three men with any crimes at this moment because the TRRC has been mandated to identify for prosecution only those who bear the greatest responsibility for the human rights violations and abuses.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Pa Ousman Sanneh has admitted participating in the killing of five people and torture of three while serving as a member of the ‘Junglers’ squadron.

“There are other people out there who may bear the greatest responsibility for these human rights violations and abuses and the decision about who to prosecute will depend on the recommendations of the TRRC based on a totality of all the facts and evidence adduced before it.

“We cannot therefore pre-empt the work of the TRRC by taking action against anyone at this stage. So let us suspend judgment and give truth a chance because without the whole truth, we will not achieve our immediate and long term objectives of forgiveness, reconciliation and accountability.”