Former CDS Admits Military Involvement In April 2000 Student Demonstration

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Former Chief of Defence Staff, Babucarr Jatta admitted to giving orders to deployment of soldiers from Basse to Janjanbureh and from Kudang to Brikamaba during the April 10-11, 2000 students’ demonstration. He however he denied ordering the arrest of the students.
This formed part of continuation of his testimony before Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) in connection with the event that led to the killing of fourteen people.
On the aftermath of the demonstration, a commission of inquiry was set up to look in to the event, during which Babucarr Jatta appeared but failed to mention the involvement of soldiers in arresting, torturing and killing of demonstrators in Brikamaba, Basse and other places.
The former CDS admitted before the commission that a report prepared by a report prepared by the national army which exempted the military from any form of involvement in the event was covered up from the former government.
Babucarr Jatta, also admitted failure to launch investigation in to the killing of students during the demonstration instead of leaving the work on a commission of inquiry.
He testified in the previous day that a crowd of about five thousand students with low police presence was noticeable at West Field at the time.
From there, he said, he together with the then Minister of Interior, Ousman Badjie went to address another group of students at Dippa Kunda. At that point, he said, the student demonstrators could not digest the warning from the minister that the country was governed by law which the students were obliged to follow.
“This statement was not received well and stones started coming towards us from the students and [we] retreated”, he said.
He said when the students stopped hurling stones on them, they escorted him on march down to the Police Intervention Unit headquarters at West Field where the police started firing at them.
The former CDS shooting was done in his presence together with then Interior Minister and Deputy Inspector General of Police but none of them acted in order to stop it. “I did not order the PIU to fire,” he maintained.
Jatta further said he might have been undermined by anyone who ordered for his men’s deployment at west field and for the shooting at the students.

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