By Mafugi Ceesay
Continuing his testimony at the TRRC, General Lang Tombong Tamba has maintained his position that none of the 2006 coupists was tortured, at least not in the presence of the investigative panel he was on. But he added that whatever happened to the accused persons outside the panel was out of their control. He said he did not have any knowledge or control over that.
In a fiery exchange with lead counsel Essa Faal, General Tamba vehemently denied that there was a systematic procedure to get confession from the coupists through torture.
He further testified that the 2006 coupists are not to be trusted, calling them tainted witnesses because they earlier denied their involvement in the same coup before a court martial. Tamba also denied that he was present when two journalists Madi Ceesay and Musa Saidykhan of the defunct Independent Newspaper were brought before the panel. The paper had written an article suggesting that a former intelligence chief was also arrested in the wake of the coup attempt. ”I don’t know Madi in person and cannot remember being on the panel when he was brought there. I was removed from the panel after I told Yahya Jammeh that former Speaker Sheriff Dibba should be released because he was not involved in the coup,” Tamba said. However, the General was told that because he probably did not know the journalists in person that was why he didn’t notice that they appeared before a panel that included him, but he stressed he could not remember them appearing.
At this juncture, Faal put to him that he blinded himself to all tortures that were carried out on victims but Tamba insisted he would not be aware of torture and condone it or be party to it. He cited the case of Pharing Sanyang where he took a position after seeing his condition.
Gen Tamba was confronted with a statement by fellow panel member, Mohammed Hydara claiming that he informed him (Tamba) about the need to stop the torture by the state guards but all of them could do nothing to stop it despite all efforts.
The former CDS confirmed being informed by Hydara and also admitted seeing Pharing Sanyang’s condition.
Meanwhile following the former CDS’ claims that the plotters of the 2006 foiled coup were not tortured when they were filmed, serving soldier Lt Col Bunja Darboe has taken to his Facebook page to react.
Colonel Darboe, who was among the plotters, wrote: “It is too cheap for Lang Tombong Tamba to sit before the TRRC and (say) that we were not tortured. When I was made to appear before the TV, my wrist was already fractured. ?t was Alhagie Martin who removed the cloth that was tied around my fracture before they ushered me before the TV.”
“I was half-naked before the whole panel for about 6 hours until the time that I made my first statement. This happened before the very eyes of the panel. So Gen Tamba’s claims that no one was tortured before the panel is not true. I eventually gave my statement around 6am. My interrogation took about 6 hours and in all this period, my hands were cuffed behind my back. Even when Alhagie Martin slapped me and torn my shirt to my waist, I was in hand cuffs,” Bunja Darboe wrote.
He maintained that he was made to write the so-called coup speech before the panel in the presence of Lang Tombong.
“No speech was found on me or in my house or in my office. I would be a foolish man to write a speech before a coup was successful. That fabricated speech is what the court martial relied on to establish a prima facie case during the trial,” he said.
Bunja Darboe further argued that the former CDS “did not speak the truth when he said I was the first person to be arrested. Pierre Mendy was the first person to be arrested. I found Pierre Mendy in Mile 2. He did not equally speak the truth when he said I was the one who mentioned the names of other suspects (accused). It was Saikou Seckan who first gave the true account of the coup plot to the NIA because he was part and parcel of it.”
“When I appeared before the panel at around midnight, I refused to speak because I requested for the presence of a lawyer which the panel refused. So I refused to answer the question. It was because of my refusal to answer the questions of the panel that made Alhagie Martin to come behind me and gave me a nasty slap and forcefully pulled my shirt to my waist level,” he noted. Darboe said if he was the one who mentioned the names of other suspects, “then who mentioned Pierre Mendy’s name whom I found in prison arrested before me? Pierre was arrested around 7pm and I was arrested around 9:30pm and brought before the panel around 12:00am.”
Also commenting on Gen Tamba’s TRRC testimony, former military officer, Ebou Jallow, specifically focused on the contentious issue of how promotions were effected during Jammeh’s time.
He wrote: “Promotion to the rank of General or Flag Officer in any military is purely through a political process in all armed forces in the world. The Commander-in-Chief makes the ultimate decision as he or she deems fit as correctly explained by Gen. Lang-Tombong Tamba at the TRRC today.”
These promotions, Jallow added, “are products of three elements in civil-military relationships: The prevailing political ideology of the country (for example, constitutional democracy), the level of professionalism allowed by the civilian leadership, the prevailing power struggle among the political class in a given country.”
“The issues that Gen. Tamba was trying to explain to Essa Faal cannot be satisfied with a simple ‘yes or no’ stupid answer. Essa Faal is way out of his league on these issues,” he wrote on his Facebook.