(JollofNews)—A Gambian Red Cross volunteer who was killed after her taxi was sprayed with bullets by soldiers was left to die in a pool of her own blood, her boyfriend has claimed.
Ya Binta Jarju, 27, of Banjul, a volunteer at the Banjul branch of the Gambia Red Cross Society, who also worked as a cashier at Comfort Neon Sign, was killed on 7th March 2015 after a local taxi she hired with her boyfriend was fired upon by soldiers manning a security checkpoint in Manjai.
A subsequent police investigation has exonerated the soldiers and instead blamed the taxi driver for causing her death. Police said the driver had refused to heed to the stop signal and the soldiers were left with no choice but to ‘fire at the taxi in order to disable it’.
But giving evidence at the trial of the taxi driver at the Kanifing court, Sulayman Bah who was with Ya Binta at the back of the taxi and miraculously escaped unharmed, said she was killed by the soldiers. He added that after the shooting, the soldiers had ignored his plea to take his bleeding girlfriend to hospital.
“They shot directly at us and Ya Binta’s head was covered in blood,” he said. “I held her in my arms and shouted at the officers to come and help us. I told the officers to help me to take her to the hospital, but none of them responded. Instead, they left us there and told me that they were going to inform their colleagues at the Manjai Police Station.”
Mr Bah added that after the soldiers left, he took his girlfriend’s phone and later went to Manjai Police Station where he gave a statement to the police.
He added: “I was later transferred to Kairaba Police Station where I was detained for a while for some security reasons according to the police. I was then taken to Banjul for further questioning before I was released on bail.”
Meanwhile, Mr Bah has admitted that their taxi had indeed failed to stop at the military checkpoint.
He added: “The driver told us that he was not going to stop because he was not wearing a seat belt and that the security officers would disturb him. I told him that if he didn’t stop, the security officers would waste our time, but he refused and drove away when he was ordered to stop. The security officers shouted for him to stop, but he refused. That was the time I and Ya Binta shouted at him, but he did not listen to us. Few seconds later, we saw the security vehicle coming behind us at a very high speed. We advised the driver to stop because he was putting our lives in danger but he still didn’t listen.
“The security vehicle then overtook us and stopped in front of our taxi and fired three warning shots. At that point, the driver managed to escape to a dark, narrow street and was followed by the security officers. That’s when they started shooting at the taxi. I forced the driver to change his direction by battling with him for a while. I did that because our lives were at risk and I wanted the vehicle to stop at that very moment. When the vehicle stopped, I turned around and saw that Ya Binta’s head was covered in blood. I could not believe at that very moment that she was dead.
He added: “I don’t believe that the first shots were intended to harm us. If they had intended to shoot us, they would have done that because they were right in front of us, but they didn’t. So I can tell that the three first shots were not directed at us.”