tortured gambian editor claims $2 million

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Musa Saidykhan, a former editor-in-chief of the banned Banjul-based The Independent newspaper on June 3, 2010 told the ECOWAS Community Court that his assailants, who tortured him, were members of President Yahya Jammeh’s security guards.

Saidykhan , who was responding to a question posed by a member of the panel of judges at the regional court in Abuja, Nigeria, said his assailants were not the same as the policemen who arrested him, but were members of the presidential security guards in different uniforms.

Saidykhan and Dr. Dialo Diop, the Senegalese medical doctor, who treated him after he fled the Gambia, gave evidence following which they were cross-examined by the counsel for the Gambian authorities. The hearing on June 3 followed several adjournments.

According to Saidykhan, the team that arrested him included two policemen, four men in military uniforms and a plain-clothed officer. At this, the counsel for the Gambia authorities suggested that his arrest could be the machinations of the Gambia opposition in an election year. But Saidykhan insisted that his assailants were presidential security guards.

Saidykhan told the court that he was arrested upon his return from South Africa, where he attended a human rights forum and granted an interview to the media about the deteriorating human rights situation in the Gambia, particularly the gruesome murder in 2004 of Deyda Hydara, co-publisher and editor of the privately-owned The Point newspaper.

Saidykhan, who painted a gory picture of how he was tortured and became unconscious for about thirty minutes, revealed that his assailants told him he was being tortured for his newspaper’s reports on the killing of 50 West African nationals in the Gambia, including 44 Ghanaians in 2005, and also for publishing the list of alleged coup plotters in the aftermath of the alleged 2006 coup plot in the Gambia.

After cross-examining Dr. Diop, defence counsel asked for an adjournment to enable them provide the court with documentary evidence to refute Saidykhan’s claims.

The case has been adjourned to July 8.

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About musa

I am a Gambian journalist whose mission to use his pen to correct injustice and to tell truth to power was left to bite dust. My newspaper's contents and editorials became "too itchy" that I ended up in Banjul's mosquito-infested cells where I had to cope with three nights of horrendous tortures that left scars all over my body. I was forced to flee into exile with my family, leaving behind my beloved country and editorial desk in the hands of perpetrators. However, unlike most refugees, my two and half years in Senegal was well spent.

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