The former head of Gambia’s feared intelligence agency and a righthand man of its ousted autocratic ruler has pleaded not guilty to the murder of a former an opposition activist.
Yankuba Badjie and nine other special agents of the bureau are facing 25 charges ranging from abuse of office and kidnapping to torture and murder.
They were arraigned before High Court judge, Kumba Sillah-Camara. They denied any wrongdoing for the torture-death of the opposition activist, Ebrima Solo Sandeng.
Badjie, his deputy Louis Gomez, Operations Director Sheikh Omar Jeng and special agents Haruna Susso, Yusupha Jammeh, Lamin Lang Sanyang, Tamba Masireh, Lamin Darboe and Baboucarr Sallah were arrested by the police in February.
Their case has been wrapped in a procedure battle, while Badjie and his co-accused persons were committed to custody.
Gambian authorities have appointed special prosecutors led by Antouman Gaye to prosecute the men of the National Intelligence Agency, now renamed the State Intelligence Services.
Sandeng was yanked away by the police and handed over to the NIA in April last year for leading an electoral reform protest ahead of the crucial presidential polls.
The opposition candidate, Adama Barrow from Sandeng’s UDP party, backed by seven other parties defeated Jammeh in the elections. Sandeng’s death sparked a row of protest.
The protests were violently suppressed by Jammeh, who jailed opposition leaders from the UDP, dwindling the longstanding ruler’s popularity.
The NIA has been accused by the opposition during Jammeh’s rule of arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention, torture, kidnapping and secret killings. Jammeh declined to prosecute them and used an indemnity law to protect them.