EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: Gambia’s former interior minister, Ousman Badjie, who initially denied receipt of any official information regarding the April 10-11 student demonstration, took a U-turn after the truth commission played a broadcast in which he said on the national television that ‘there was no live ammunition used by the officers’ on the ground.
Badjie who appeared before the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Wednesday, said the firing during the students’ protest nineteen years ago were of exercise bullets that would not kill anybody.
“The blanks [bullets and teargas] were use when the students started throwing stones” and the decision was meant to disperse them.
“So, this is just to tell you that there was no live ammunition use because we know this are our brothers and sisters,” he told GRTS at the time.
However, a moment after the play of his interview, Badjie admitted to have lied to the commission that there was no shooting on students. “It was a lapse on my side and I accept the unprofessional way on my side”, he said.
In claim that he was misinformed by a police officer, Mr Badjie apologised to the commission. “Yes, it [his interview] was misleading and I really regret.
“To the victims and their families”, he added, “I would say this was a regrettable incident and I really sympathise for all the Pains you have been through all the years.”
The shooting on student demonstrators in April 10-11, 2000 led to the killing of fourteen people. The event was triggered by the killing of a student allegedly by fire officers and rape on another by a uniformed office.
Other facts about the former Interior Minister as he testify before the TRRC:
– He was promoted as commissioner of police in charge of operations in December 1994
– He was arrested in January 1995
– He was in communicado in Yundum Barracks for one week
– He was in detention 640 days at the remand wing
– At mile two, he shared cell with the junior officers
– He was not charge nor given reason for arrest
– He was release in 28th October, 1996
– He was reinstated as Police Commissioner In charge of Administration
– He became Minister of Interior