EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Former vice chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) coup junta that toppled Gambia’s first President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara on July 22, 1994 has denied beating and torturing Mamat Cham, Ebrima Chongan and RSM Jeng, who were detained at Mile 2 Central Prison.
In his second testimony on Thursday, before the truth-seeking Commission that was instituted by President Adama Barrow in 2017 to conduct research and investigations into human rights violations committed under Gambia’s exiled former President Yahya Jammeh, Edward Singhateh denied participating in the arrest and beating of Mamat Cham, Ebrima Chongan and RSM Jeng despite several claims by witnesses that he actually beat and tortured the trio.
“What I can do is offer my side. What the Commission takes or does is entirely up to the Commission,” he said response to Lead Counsel Essa Faal.
But Counsel Faal told him that of the all the soldiers who went to Mile 2 that day and testified before the Commission, he is the only person who denied detention and torturing of the inmates. “Absolutely not, sir. I am not clean and I am not playing the angel or pretending to be clean,” Singhateh said.
The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) is established to acknowledge the truth of what happened from 1994 to 2016 during the regime of President Yahya Jammeh, to ensure justice and reparations for the victims affected during this period, to promote national reconciliation and healing, and to ensure that what happened in The Gambia during the period never happens again.
Lead Counsel Faal further told him that the evidence before him –Faal- is that all the Council members brutalised the prisoners at Mile 2, but Singhateh responded again, saying “No sir, I do not deny that. By virtue of the fact that we were there with our junior officers under our control, and those detainees were brutalised by them, we have responsibility and I accept mine.”
Singhateh said it is not clear to him whether his men had participated in the beating, but said if they did, he takes full responsibility of their actions. “Everyone who was there participated and is culpable. I did not point my gun on the prisoners nor did I participate in their beating.”
He said he participated in the process of going to Mile 2 Central Prison to interrogate the detainees when they were taken out of the cell and when they were being beaten, he stood by and did not intervene and did not stop them.
When Lead Counsel Faal asked him whether he had asked any question or said anything, Mr Singhateh maintained that everyone who was there that day had participated and is culpable.