The former head of Gambia’s feared National Intelligence Agency, Yankuba Badjie with eight others accused of killing an opposition activist have pleaded not guilty.
A criminal complaint filed by prosecutors say Badjie with Louis Richard Gomez, Saihou Omar Jeng, Babucarr Sallah, Yusupha Jammeh, Haruna Susso, Tamba Masireh, Lamin Darboe and Lamin Lang Sanyang conspired to torture and kill Ebrima Solo Sandeng.
They also deny torturing nearly a dozen others, some of whom were tortured into a coma, including Fatoumata Jawara, now a Member of Parliament.
Sandeng led Jawara and a handful of other opposition supporters to the Westfield Square in a protest demanding electoral reform. Security forces arrested them and Sandeng reportedly died of torture wounds the night of his arrest.
His death led to a series of protests in Gambia’s capital, Banjul, which is only accessible by a bridge linking it to the commercial region of Kanifing.
Opposition leader, now Foreign Secretary Ousainou Darboe and senior members of his UDP party were brutally crushed by riot police officers, who were deployed to put off anti-government protests last year.
Badjie and his former staffers were arrested in January after Jammeh fled to Equatorial Guinea in the wake of his election defeat in the hands of real estate developer, Adama Barrow.
At least 14 other former security officers from Jammeh’s presidential guard unit have also been arrested by regional forces that were deployed to send Jammeh packing. They help investigators probing human rights abuses during Jammeh’s reign.