A High Court Juge in the Gambia’s capital, Kumba Sillah Camara has given state prosecutors in the West African nation a week to bring in 17 witnesses that are to testify against nine secret service agents, who avowedly tortured a senior opposition member to death.
Justice Sillah Camara rejected a request by the country’s chief prosecutor to be given a longer adjournment to have witnesses brought to the court to testify.
“I will not give you two weeks but until next week. We will start sitting from Monday to Thursday and make sure you have all your witnesses ready and available,” Ms. Sillah Camara ruled.
Gambia’s former intelligence chief, Yakuba Badjie with eight others, including his deputy and operations direction have been charged with the murder of Ebrima Solo Sandeng and in custody since February.
Badjie reportedly gave orders to torture protesters during peaceful demonstrations by a group of opposition supporters calling for electoral reform in April 2016.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder and torture. They are the first group of Jammeh regime officials to face human rights abuse related charges.
Jammeh, exiled to Equatorial Guinea violently suppressed peaceful protests and arrested demonstrators, who were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.
At least three government critics died in custody, including Mr. Sandeng, who was tortured to death shortly after arrest, according to Amnesty International.
The rights group said Gambian authorities can make a decisive break from the country’s brutal past by repealing repressive laws, reforming the security services and ensuring accountability for past serious violations of human rights, amelioration that new president, Adama Barrow has vowed to undertake.