Monday 22 May 2017

Ex-head of Gambia's prisons charged over disappearances

Ex-head of Gambia's prisons charged over disappearances
(AFP (eng) 03/08/17)
Ex-head of Gambia's prisons charged over disappearances

The ex-head of The Gambia's notorious prison system has been charged over the disappearance of the former spy chief and senior military figures after a coup attempt in 2006.

David Colley ran the prisons nearly nonstop from 1997 onward under Yahya Jammeh, the longtime leader of the west African state, who was forced out of power in January after a contested election.

"(Colley) is charged with abuse of office, but is yet to appear in court," Gambia Police Force press officer Foday Conta told AFP on Tuesday.

Colley was charged and released on bail on Thursday after his arrest in late February, and has been cooperating with an inquiry into the disappearance in 2006 of Daba Marenah, former director of the country's National Intelligence Agency (NIA), and several military officials.

The men went missing after being implicated in an attempt to overthrow Jammeh, one of several during his 22 years in power.

Colley is also being investigated over the deaths of dozens of inmates who were fed rotten meat at the infamous Mile Two prison, a source at the prison told AFP on Tuesday.

Colley testified at a trial in 2009 that 63 inmates died primarily of food poisoning and stomach diseases in 2006 and 2007, according to the US State Department's 2010 Human Rights reports, and the new charges are thought to relate to these deaths.

The United Nations and rights groups repeatedly condemned The Gambia's security services under Jammeh, blaming them for arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial killings and torture.

They also criticised the sordid conditions and detainee treatment in Gambian prisons, especially at Mile Two, the country's biggest, just outside the capital, Banjul.

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