Ex-president accused of ordering murder of two businessmen
Former members of a Gambian death squad known as the Junglers on Thursday accused ex-president Yahya Jammeh of ordering the murder of two US citizens in 2013, having already confessed to the killing of a well known journalist.
Since Monday, Gambians have been gripped by live coverage of three ex-Junglers — Malick Jatta, Omar Jallow and Amadou Badjie — before the West African country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
On the last day of hearings before the commission adjourns until August 5, Badjie, a member of Jammeh’s elite hit squad, said the head of state had ordered in June 2013 that two US-Gambian businenessmen, Alhaji Ceesay and Ebrima Jobe, who he suspected were planning a coup, should be “chopped into pieces”.
The two men were arrested and taken to the president’s residence in the village of Kanilai, Badjie said.
– ‘Blind loyalty’ –
There they were driven deep into the grounds where they were suffocated, beheaded and buried, Badjie added.
“These two people were suffocated to death and their heads chop off. We buried these corpses in one grave,” he said.
“Our team was a hit squad for Yahya Jammeh. We had blind loyalty for Yahya Jammeh,” he added.
Earlier, the witnesses said they took part in strangling to death Haruna Jammeh, Jammeh’s cousin, as well as the torture of outspoken cleric Imam Baba Leigh and the 2012 execution of nine prison inmates.
Jatta told the commission that the Junglers’ leader Tumbul Tamba gave each of them 50,000 GMD ($1,250) as a token of appreciation from Jammeh after the killing of newspaper editor Dayda Hydara, who wrote articles about the corruption that marked Jammeh’s iron-fisted rule for 22 years.
Jallow also told the hearing Jammeh ordered the massacre of some 30 migrants he said were “mercenaries” sent to topple him in 2005.
The former officer in the Presidential Guard said about 45 Europe-bound migrants comprising nationals from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, were arrested on a beach while trying to get to Europe.
“Yahya Jammeh ordered the execution of the foreign nationals,” believing they were mercenaries sent to topple him, Jallow said.
They were taken to a firing range and then the soldiers were told by their commanding officer, Lieutenant Solo Bojang, that the captives were to be killed.
“Solo said these people were mercenaries and he told us that the order from the former head of State (Yahya Jammeh) was to fire at them,” he said, adding that the bodies were thrown into a well.
Human Rights Watch said the other migrants were also killed.
Vendor Mariama Mangaendor told AFP he was “shocked when I watched television and see Staff Seargeant Omar Jallow confessing to taking part in the execution of 48 people on the orders of ex-President Yahya Jammeh. I regretted voting for Jammeh in past presidential elections.”
– ‘Exposed at last’ –
Musa Manjang, a taxi driver, added: “Jammeh has been exposed at last. Who will now deny that he was the one responsible for the mysterious disappearances of people including the abduction and killing of over 50 West African nationals?”
The US embassy in Banjul welcomed the revelations.
“This week, testimony… provided details surrounding the direct involvement of former president Jammeh in the disappearance of American citizens Alhaji Ceesay and Ebrima Jobe in 2013,” it said in a statement.
“The United States welcomes the additional information that has come to light as this provides an opportunity to renew our investigation into the circumstances surrounding their deaths.”
Jammeh seized power in a bloodless coup in 1994 in the former British colony.
His refusal to leave power after losing a presidential election in 2016 sparked a regional crisis in West Africa, which ended when Jammeh agreed to live in exile in Equatorial Guinea.