Lt Col Darboe counters Barry’s TRRC testimony

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By Omar Bah

 Lt Col Bunja Darboe of the Gambia Armed Forces has said former NIA head of investigations, Foday Barry, lied in his testimony at the Truth Commission on Tuesday.

Writing on his Facebook page Wednesday evening, Lt Col Darboe said Foday Barry’s assertion before the commission that he had no interaction with Ballo Kanteh on the first day of interrogation at the NIA was untrue.

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He wrote: “I listened to the testimony of Foday Barry before the TRRC. The very day Ballo Kanteh was arrested, he was taken to the NIA on the same day at about 18:00hrs. I was then the PRO of the army. The then army commander called me in his office and informed me that he wanted me to be a witness at the interrogation of the first suspect Ballo Kanteh.

“I went to the NIA HQ at about 19:00hrs. I was directed to the investigation unit. There, I found Foday Barry, Salimina Drammeh, 13 Badjie, Malamin Badjie of the military intelligence and also a member of the military police. I didn’t meet Lamin Baba dinding Jobarteh in the room. I found Ballo Kanteh seated on the floor in a pair of shorts and shirtless. He also had a gunshot injury on one of his legs. In that room, it was Foday Barry who was leading the interrogation of Ballo Kanteh. He would hit Ballo with a hard truncheon-like stick that he held in his hand. Sometimes, he would hit him on his gunshot injury,” he said.

Lt Col Darboe said Ballo Kanteh was “groaning in pain and he seemed to be passing off”.

“It was at that point that I told Foday Barry that they should stop the interrogation and call a doctor to treat his wound and provide him with food and clothing. I emphasised that Ballo was the first suspect and that he should be treated well so that they can get the information about his accomplices from him. Foday Barry angrily responded that I couldn’t tell them what to do and that they knew exactly what they were doing. I retorted that if they knew what they were doing, they would not be treating the man like that. I finally said that I would not be a witness to that interrogation because the man could die in our hands and I would not be a party to that. I left the room and 13 Badjie followed me. He appealed for me to return to the room to talk things over but I insisted that I was not going back there,” he added.

Lt Col Darboe said he left the NIA premises and informed CDS Baboucarr Jatta what was happening.

“He [Jatta] promised that he would go there the following day to see what was happening. I didn’t go with him there because he assigned me to witness the postmortem of the six soldiers who were killed in the Farafenni attack at the RVTH which I did. I was the witness to the postmortem of all the soldiers killed in the Farafenni attack in November 1996,” Lt Col Darboe said