Gambia opposition member who died in custody. Solo Sandeng with the megaphone with UDP protesters at Westfield Junction.
Solo Sandeng (died in custody) with the megaphone with UDP protesters at Westfield Junction.

(JollofNews) An unknown number of detainees currently on trial for protesting against Gambia’s bad electoral laws were Tuesday night moved from the Mile II Prison to an unknown location, said the United Democratic Party (UDP).

The party said: “We can confirm that by around 1:30 GMT, state security personnel from the Police, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Army, drove into the Mile II Central Prisons and removed an unspecified group of remand political prisoners in handcuffs. Neither their lawyers nor the prison officials were told where they were being taken to.”

The UDP said it is  “deeply concerned” about the fate of its members and it “holds the government of the Gambia wholly responsible for their personal security and wellbeing.”

It said President Yahya Jammeh’s regime has “developed a plaid history of disappearing detainees to their eventual death only to shamelessly turn around to say that they have escaped lawful custody.”

However, the UDP also said there are unconfirmed reports claiming the detainees were transported to Mansakonko, about 200 kilometers from the capital.

Dozens of people, mainly members of the UDP and its leader, Ousainou Darboe are currently in detention for protesting against Gambia’s electoral laws that are engineered to keep Jammeh in power. One of the detainees, Solo Sandeng died in custody as a result of torture, according to his party.

They are accused of multiple offenses including conspiring to commit felony, unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with traffic, holding a procession without a license and disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession.

The court has on many occasions denied the group bail, claiming it posed a threat to national security.

Last week Mr Darboe told the court it is “bias” and their arrest, detention and “trial are all politically motivated.”

A day before Darboe’s criticism of the court, his lawyers walked away from the courtroom  in protest that the presiding judge is refusing to accept every application they made.

The first judge in the case announced he was stepping aside few days after telling a journalist he was embarrassed by the detention of the opposition figures.