(JollofNews) – A Gambian opposition activist who lost his life in state custody in April died as a result of shortness of breath, or breathlessness, medical records show.
Ebrima Solo Sandeng, organising secretary of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) died on 15th April 2016 less than 24 hours after he was arrested with a dozen other activists for staging a brief but peaceful anti-government protest at Westfield junction, Serrekunda.
Eye-witnesses said Mr Sandeng and his associates arrived at the busy Westfield junction some 12 kilometres away from the capital, Banjul, during the afternoon rush hour and displayed a banner with the slogan “We Need Proper Electoral Reform”. They also chanted anti-government slogans and demanded Mr Jammeh’s resignation.
However soon after the protest began, they were arrested by a contingent of security officials and detained briefly at the Police Intervention Unit, Kanifing before being transfered to the feared National Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Banjul.
Sheikh Omar Jeng, NIA’s director of Operation, said in a sworn affidavit filed on 13th June 2016 in objection to an application made
by Mr Sandeng’s lawyer for him to be produced in court whether dead or alive, that Mr Sandeng died during “the process of his arrest and detention”. He failed to disclosed the cause of the activist’s death.
But according to Mr Sandeng’s death certificate issued at the Emergency Unit of Serrekunda Hospital and signed by one Dr Lamin Sanyang, he died from dyspnea [difficult or laboured breathing], shock and respiratory failure.
The report revealed that the activist died on 15th May 2016 at about 04:20 hours.
The death certificate has corroborated testimonies from other detainees who said he was subjected to hours of severe torture including beatings and kicking by security officers wearing black balaclava and gloves.
According to court documents signed by Nogoi Njie, Mr Sandeng was bleeding all over his body and was in severe pain the last time she saw him.
“While I was sat in a room after I was mercilessly beaten by the men, Solo Sandeng was brought in. The men have already beaten him and his body was all swollen and he was in severe pain,” she said in an affidavit.
“I then asked him to come close to me away from the urine area where he was dumped. When he got to me, he laid flat on the floor and I began to massage his head and body. He was bleeding all over. He then started to sleep and I sat up.
Mr Njie who was arrested together with Mr Sandeng and is currently being tried for staging an unauthorised anti-regime added: “A few minutes later, the cell door was opened and some men walked in and took Solo away. I later heard him screaming. Later while the men were taking me for interrogations, I saw Solo’s body on the grass next to a table. He was stripped stark naked and was bleeding profusely. He was groaning in pain and could hardly move his head. After I was subjected to more beatings in the courtyard, I saw the security officers dragged Solo’s body behind a building where he was again subjected to more beatings and I could hear him groaning.”