By Nelson Manneh
Fatou Camara, a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP), on Tuesday January 29th 2019, told the High Court in Banjul that she was tortured by paramilitary personnel of the Gambia Police Force.
Camara said on April 14th 2016, she was arrested and tortured by paramilitary personnel, when she was not part of the UDP demonstration held that day under the leadership of the late Solo Sandeng; that she is the Ward Chairperson of the UDP in Ebo-Town Ward.
The 55-year old told the court that she was arrested from Westfield and taken to Mile II before she was transferred to the NIA headquarters in Banjul. Camara told the Court that she resides in Ebo-Town and has five children.
In her testimony, she said on the 14th of April 2016, she was on her way to a wedding ceremony; that before going to the said programme, she went to the Serrekunda market to buy the materials she was to take to the ceremony; that at the Serrekunda Market, she was told what she was looking for, was available at Sillah Kunda in Kanifing. Camara said on her way to Sillah Kunda in Kanifing, she found members of her party standing at Westfield; that when she enquired from them what they were doing at Westfield, they told her that nothing was happening; that they told her to proceed to the ceremony and later they will tell her what had happened.
“Who did you talk to?” asked prosecutor Combeh Gaye.
The witness responded that she talked to Solo Sandeng and Falang Sonko. “I saw UDP members holding banners, although I do not know what was on those banners, because I am illiterate,” she said.
She said she decided to stay at Westfield for some time; that whilst sitting somewhere at Westfield, she saw paramilitary personnel disembark from their truck and people were running helter-skelter.
“Some people were arrested. The paramilitary officers were beating people,” she explained.
She said there was a woman who came with two paramilitary personnel and identified her to them as a member of the UDP demonstrators.
“I was slapped by one of the paramilitary personnel. The two paramilitary officers held me and threw me inside their truck and transported me to the PIU headquarters,” she said; that the paramilitary made them stand under the sun for some duration and later took them to a big house and ordered them to sit on the floor. She said this was around 2 pm; that at this time, Yankuba Colley and Yankuba Sonko arrived.
She said Yankuba Colley told Yankuba Sonko that they wanted to stage a coup d’état. “The paramilitary cuffed us, put us in a truck and took us to Mile II Prisons,” she said; that at Mile II she requested to break her fast but was denied; that during her first night at Mile II, herself and Fatoumata Jawara were taken to the NIA headquarters by people she does not know; that she was interviewed by some people she could not remember.
Hearing continues today at 1 pm.