Gambia arrests ex-prisons chief over death of former political strongman

Gambia arrests ex-prisons chief over death of former political strongman

Gambian authorities have arrested the former prisons boss for the death of ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh’s close ally amid investigations into human rights abuses under his watch.

David Colley was arrested by the police on Tuesday evening and transported to the Kairaba Police Station, just a few hundred meters from the U.S. Embassy before being transferred to the Serious Crime Unit at the Police Headquarters in the capital, Banjul.

Former political strongman Baba Jobe was killed just days before his publicized release. Gambian authorities continued to detain Jobe on the orders of former President Jammeh even after he served his time for alleged economic crimes after a bitter political split with the exiled authoritarian ruler.

Jammeh was afraid that Jobe might flee the country upon his release and be used by Western powers to implicate and gather evidence against him over conflict diamonds and arms trade in Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war.

Jobe, a former parliamentarian for Jammeh’s party, was under a United Nations travel ban for his involvement in the trade of conflict minerals from Sierra Leone. It was established by investigators that a plane registered to Jammeh and the Gambia’s presidency was used in the trade, fanning suspicions that Jobe was acting on behalf of the ousted dictator.

Jobe was allegedly fell sick before his release and was bedridden in a secured private ward at the then Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital. According to a military source, Jobe was strangled to death on Jammeh’s orders that were passed on to Mr. Colley for execution.

David Colley was sacked by the Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow, who defeated Jammeh in the country’s 2016 elections over allegations of human rights abuses in prisons under Jammeh’s regime.

Colley was detained in March last year for a few days and released on bail. While he was not charged for rights violations, he was charged with abuse of office but never appeared before a judge.

(Reporting and Writing by Assan Sallah; Additional Writing and Editing by Sam Phatey)

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