By Rohey Jadama
The video containing the interviews of the late Solo Sandeng and other United Democratic Party protesters, was played in the ongoing trial involving Mr. Yankuba Badjie, the erstwhile Director of the NIA and eight others. The video was played in jam packed court room yesterday 22nd January 2018.
When the case was called before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the Banjul High Court, Lawyer Antuman Gaye, the lead prosecutor of the case told the court that following its order last week, they have arranged for the viewing of what is contained in the hard drive. “I do not wish to make any comment on it”, said Lawyer Gaye. At this juncture, he called on Lawyer Lamin S. Camara to lead the witness in identifying the said video in the hard drive. “Mr. Badjie you told the court that you did a video coverage of the UDP protesters. Is that correct?” asked Lawyer Camara. “Yes Sir”, the witness responded. “You also told the court that you did the video coverage of the interviews?” “Yes”, replied the witness.
At this juncture the witness was asked to locate the said videos in the hard drive. PW7 walked to the laptop, clicked it on and identified the videos of the UDP protesters. The witness told the court that there are two videos in IG 2. He was asked to tell the court the file names of the said videos. “The first one is named ‘UDP demonstrators’ and the other one was named Master copy”, said PW7. At this juncture the said video was played for the court to view. From the screened images of the video, some UDP protesters could be seen standing while two of them sat down on the floor. Those interviewing them were seen sitting around a table in the conference hall of the NIA office. Nogoi Njie, Solo Sandeng, Modou Ngum, Kafu Bayo and others could all be seen in the video. When Modou Ngum was being interviewed, he was seen licking his bruised bloodied arm. At this point of the video, a loud scream was heard. Thereafter, Solo Sandeng’s interview came on. He was seen in the video wheezing and mumbling while answering questions during the interview. Solo Sandeng’s head and hand could be seen swollen and bruised in the video. When Solo was asked who funded their demonstration, he responded that he printed the banners and bought water for the protesters. In his statement from the video, the late Ebrima Solo Sandeng who could be seen speaking under extreme duress, said the demonstration was planned and organised by four political parties; that the four political parties were the United Democratic Party (UDP), National Reconciliation Party (NRP), Gambia Moral Congress and Gambia Party For Development and Progress (GPDP); that they did not receive any funding or support from any person or organisation both within and outside the country, but was instead fully funded by them; that he was the person who bought the banners and water that were used on that day. On the reason for them holding the demonstration, the late Mr. Sandeng said they were not happy with the electoral laws of the country; that the opposition parties in the country wrote to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) demanding amendments in the electoral laws but the electoral body (IEC) failed to respond to the needs of the Gambians; that they also wrote to IEC but the electoral body responded that they were not the right persons to talk to them about those issues; that the laws of the Gambia empowered them to demonstrate and that they have a right to hold a demonstration. He could be seen telling the official who was screening him, that their aim was to show their dissatisfaction about the electoral laws and they never targeted the Government of the day (the former government).
The viewing of the video was extremely emotional. Some of the family members and sympathizers were weeping openly in the crowded courtroom. As the video was played, the accused persons could be seen watching attentively, but Yankuba Badjie bowed his head.