A Gambian Judge has demanded that nine former intelligence officers accused of murdering an opposition activist be treated with dignity.
Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara has ordered prison wardens not to handcuff and chain the detainees, including a former spy chief, Yankuba Badjie accused of torturing Ebrima Solo Sandeng to death.
The lawyers of the accused person had filed a complaint in court and Justice Sillah-Camara said: “the rights and dignity of the accused persons should be respected as they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
“In last court sittings, they are brought in court with handcuffs. Bringing them in handcuffs seems they are criminals. They are innocent until proven guilty. They deserve rights and dignity and this is a serious matter that the court should intervene,” said EM Meme, the lead defense counsel for the accused.
Moses Ritchards, a defense counsel for Sheikh Omar Jeng, a former senior operations officer for Jammeh’s spy agency said the number of troops deployed to guard the accused persons is enough to secure them.
Justice Sillah-Camara ruled “they are not flight risk” but if the prison officials ever deemed that there is a risk of escape, they should notify the court.
“If you see that they are at flight risk, you inform the court but don’t handcuff them,” she said.
Until then, she has barred officials from putting the men in handcuffs. Family members of the accused person clashed with victims previously. The case is the most high-profile in post-Jammeh Gambia over human rights abuses of the ousted regime.