By Momodou Jarju
Major Lamin Fatty, has admitted to the Truth, Reconciliation and ReparationS Commission (TRRC), that he maltreated Momodou Njie, a former medic, ex-corporal Alagie Kebbeh and Abdoulie Trawally, all former members of the Gambia National Army, in the wake of the 11th November 1994 foiled coup.
The events of the attempted coup started on the 10th of November 1994 where over a dozen soldiers of were killed at diverse places.
Major Fatty, a former bodyguard to junta member Edward Singhateh, said in the night of the 10 of November 1994 at around 10pm or 11pm, he left Fajara barracks and went to the house of then Lieutenant Edward Singhateh, behind YMCA, where he spent the night until the afternoon of Saturday 11th November, when his boss and his entourage returned; that the only time he left Singhatey’s house was after he (his boss) and his entourage left to go somewhere he did not know; that thereafter, he left for Fajara Barracks.
Fatty said a list of people who were to be arrested on 11th November was brought to him at Fajara Barracks by Captain Peter Singhateh; that Momodou Njie, the medic at Fajara Barracks was eventually brought in by two soldiers and was asked to crawl; that he was kicked and then shot on the leg by Peter.
“While going to the clinic, I saw Njie coming with two soldiers I cannot remember. Then I joined them. I personally told Njie to crawl. While he was crawling, I kicked him. Peter kicked him. Peter shot him on his leg,” Major Fatty explained.
He said he was surprised when Captain Peter shot Njie, because according to him, at that time and age, he termed the alleged coup plotters as people who wanted to bring trouble into the country.
“Taking arms and unseating a sitting Government that was what I was against. But I know at that time, that was too much,” he said, adding that he regretted his presence at the spot and being part of the operation to arrest Njie.
Thereafter, on that same Sunday, Fatty said Lieutenant Samba Batch and himself, went to ex-corporal Alagie Kebbeh’s house at Banjulinding to arrest him, which they did. He said Kebbeh was his close friend from whose house he used to eat. Fatty said he found Kebbeh under his bed and dragged him out. But this was not what Kebbeh told the Commission in his testimony on Tuesday. Kebbeh said he walked out of his house to the vehicle and was asked to get in the boot of the car.
“I saw him under a bed and I dragged him out. I took him to the car. I personally opened the booth of the car. When I opened the boot of the car I told him to get in,” he told Commissioners.
Fatty said Kebbeh was stronger than he was and feared he might escape if he boarded the car; that it took the vehicle twenty minutes or less to transport Kebbeh to Yundum Barracks, but Kebbeh told the Truth Commission that he was in the boot for five hours.
Fatty admitted to have told Kebbeh’s wife that “this man is just your husband, you can get another husband tomorrow.”
He said Captain Peter Singhateh made them to believe that if the coup succeeded, all the operatives were going to be killed which had impacted his conduct in doing things that were wrong.
He said Abdoulie Trawally was also arrested on the same day, but he was not put in a boot. Lead Counsel Faal read a written statement of Trawally stating that he was arrested by Peter Singhateh and soldiers where Fatty was among, and put in the boot of a car. Fatty denied this claim by Trawally.
Testifying further, Fatty indicated that he did not participate in the killing of soldiers at Sifo forest. Lead Counsel Faal told Fatty that this was contrary to previous testimonies of witnesses before the Commission. But Fatty denied the allegations. Lead Counsel Faal then asked the technicians to play the video of Lamin Senghor (The Assassin) who mentioned that Major Fatty accompanied Edward Singhatey and his entourage to State House. And that this was the entourage that went to Yundum Barracks and later to Sifo where nine soldiers were killed. Major Fatty denied this allegation.
Another witness who was involved in the killings of the nine soldiers at the Sifo forest Alagie Kanyi, said in his statement before Commissioners, that Major Fatty was at Yundum Barracks on the 11 November, but Fatty denied this as well; that both witnesses were lying and intended to fabricate the facts. Third witness Abdoulie Darboe during his testimony, also said he saw Fatty at Mile II prisons, but Fatty denied this as well.
Fatty has also denied maltreating or torturing Ebrima Chongan, Mamat Cham and others.
Commenting on the death of Koro Ceesay, Fatty said he was not involved but suspected his boss Lt. Edward Singhatey, because the following day of the incident, he saw Lt. Edward Singhateh administer bandage on his hand, which could be linked to the burning of the late Koro Ceesay together with his vehicle in the forest.
Born in 18th February 1952 at Tambana village in the Jokadu District, Major Fatty said he joined the Army in August 1987, and was enlisted in January of 1988; that in 1994, he was Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM).
Meanwhile, the Truth Commission remembered April 10 victims who were gunned down by PIU personnel and soldiers. The 14 students were massacred during a peaceful protest. Islamic and Christian prayers were offered to the victims led by CommissionerS Jallow and Odico respectively.