(JollofNews) – A former Gambian army captain who was arrested and sentenced to life for plotting to topple the regime of President Yahya Jammeh has accused Gambian authorities of using manufactured evidence to convict him.
Captain Bunja Darboe, was among 27 Gambians, including former army officers and top officials who were arrested in March 2006 for trying to overthrow Mr Jammeh while he was on an official trip in Mauritania.
A government statement at the time said security forces discovered that a group of army officers led by Colonel Ndure Cham, former chief of defence staff, were at an advanced stage in their plot to overthrow the regime and all those involved ‘are presently in custody’ and helping the security forces in their investigation, except the leader who is still at large.
Captain Darboe and his associates were later paraded on national television were they admitted their role in the coup plot and pleaded for mercy.
State prosecutors said Darboe was the would-be spokesman for the group and had prepared a written media statement to explain and justify the coup. The statement was used in court by prosecutors to secure his conviction.
But speaking for the first time about the coup, Captain Darboe who was released in July 2015 with other political prisoners as part of a presidential amnesty and is now living outside the Gambia, said the statement was written after he was arrested and was being questioned at the National Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Banjul. He said the statement was written under duress.
“I want to take this opportunity to inform Gambians that the so-called speech which was attributed to me was in actual fact written inside the conference hall of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in front of the whole panel of investigators,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“When every effort to find a purported speech failed, I was forced by some of the leading members of the panel to write a speech. So I had no choice but to succumb. I was given a pen and some papers and so I wrote the speech at the NIA before the entire panel under severe duress and intimidation.”
Captain Darboe who is currently writing a book about his arrest and incarceration at the Gambia’s notorious Mile Two Prisons added: “It is ironic that the speech which both the court-martial and the high court relied on as the prima facie evidence during our trial was a fabricated evidence.
“It was an evidence that was obtained through the use of duress and intimidation and the threat of torture. I had clearly mentioned this in my testimony at the court-martial during the trial. I even gave the names of those who were present at the NIA when I wrote the speech but being an accused person, my words had no weight even if what I said was the truth.
“The investigators had deceived the Gambian people and had fooled their master Yaya Jammeh into believing that, that speech was found in my office. That was the biggest lie of 2006 and they all knew it.”
Captain Darboe revealed that while he was being questioned about his role in the coup plot at the NIA headquarters, he was severely tortured resulting in a fractured wrist and injury to one of his eyes.
He denied online newspaper reports that he has become impotent as a result of the torture.
“As far as I am concerned, that information was not true. It was false and was terribly misleading. It is very true that I was severely tortured but not to an extent of losing my manhood. I sustained a fractured wrist and also an eye injury but thank God my manhood has not the least been affected.”