By Tabora Bojang
Brigadier General Alagie Martin of the Gambia Armed Forces, who was a close aide to exiled former president Jammeh widely accused by many to be one of the pillars oiling wheels of the Jammeh tyranny, yesterday spent the whole day answering questions about his role.
He admitted in a laborious testimony at the TRRC that he presided over at least two torture sessions on detained officers including Sanna Sabally, Sadibou Hydara, Bunja Darboe, and Baboucarr Sanyang amongst others although he called it beatings.
Martin, who joined the then Gambia National Gendarmerie in 1982 to begin a long career in the security forces, was regarded as one of the most loyal and trusted soldiers of former president Jammeh.
He told the commission that he was instructed by the former president to head a team of investigators that interrogated the two arrested junta members who were alleged to have been planning a coup.
He said the situation was so volatile at the time that suspects were tortured including the use of plastic bags as means and other forms of maltreatments, if they fail to answer questions as part of their interrogations. But he denied water boarding and other forms of torture alleged by Sanna Sabally.
He said he only visited Mile 2 twice with his team to beat Sabally to talk .
The long serving General whose testimony was marred by inconsistency and self contradictions also admitted taking part in the investigation of the March 2006 coup plotters..
He said the objective of the panel consisting of agents from the NIA, senior police and army officers in CDS Lang Tombong Tamba and IGP Sonko, was to extract confessions from the accused persons for Yahya Jammeh.
He confessed that the panel tortured suspects and extracted false confessions from them that implicated them at a court martial in connection to the failed plot.
“We made terrible mistakes but the situation was so terrible at the time with coups and counter coups, fighting for positions, killings, and torture was the order of the day; soldiers would not trust each other since everybody was thinking about his life ,” he said
“I want to tell the Gambian people that we have regretted all what has happened.
We did wrong and terrible things.
I am apologising to everybody that I have wronged whether I know it or not”, he noted.