Former Interior Minister Says Independent Newspaper was closed by court order



By Sheriff Saidykhan

The embattled former minister of Interior and Inspector General of Police, Ousman Sonko told the Court in Switzerland that the defunct Independent Newspaper was closed by a Court order and that was why the police were presence at the premises for two years.  Sonko was pushed to a corner by one of the lawyers of a private plaintiff Madi Ceesay.

In a cross examination, he (Sonko) said in defense of good human right climate during Jammeh’s regime indicated that it was in 2014 that their government established the National Human Right Commission, but due to lack of funds it was not functional. as the National Human Right Commission was as an act of parliament in 2017).

In the ongoing trial of the former Minister and IGP, Ousman Sonko, who since 2017 was in jail for crimes against humanity the allegations ranges from multiple rapes, force imprisonment and torture. 

Narrating his ordeals Madi Ceesay the tenth private plaintiff in the Sonko trial told the Court that he was arrested at his office on 28 March 2006 by the police. Then he was transported to Banjul and handed to the jungulers at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Madi told the court he was subjected to several beating between the hours of 2 to 4 am on two or more occasions. Adding that he sustains injuries all over his body and then released on bail with no charges.

When he was asked to describe the political and human climate under the regime of Sonko, he told the court it was like a hell on earth, Ceesay said there was no democracy and the country was like under a police state as there were too much harassment of the civilian by the police. 

“The arrests and tortures did not spare nobody, from the religious leaders, politicians (opponents), civil society members, activists and even school children. They kill , torture, imprison with court order, and made people disappear, that was the climate in Gambia during the time of Sonko and his master Yahya Jammeh,” he said

Asked if there was press freedom; Ceesay told the court.  

He added: “How can you have press freedom, when you arrest both President and Vice president of Gambia Press Union, how can you have press freedom when you kill Deyda Hydara, how can you have press freedom when , you forced Chief Ebrima Manneh disappear and later killed, how can you have press freedom when you burn media houses and their printing press?” he quizzed.


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