Members of the Gambia Police Force are investigating 33 cases of people who were either confirmed dead under mysterious circumstances or considered missing under the former regime led by Yahya Jammeh.
The police made the disclosure at a press conference with victims of the former president held at their headquarters in Banjul.
Baboucarr Sarr, the crime management coordinator at the police Major Crime Unit that has been leading the investigations of the alleged killed or the disappeared, told journalists on Tuesday that they have so far got a lead on only 7 cases.
“As I speak to you, we have about 33 files that have been compiled and are under investigations.
“We have 7 cases in which we have a lead so far and exhumation have been conducted in one of them and we are also planning to exhume some others…
“We have about ten suspects who are under custody and are helping us in our investigations,” Sarr said.
Gambia’s former president Jammeh has ruled the small country for 22 years during which human rights organizations have accused him of several killings and disappearances.
Since his fall in country’s last December 1 presidential elections, 9 members of his former intelligence agency that is accused of most atrocities in his reign have been charged to court for murder of an opposition activist, Solo Sandeng.
Since the start of the police investigations, a total of 4 bodies: Solo Sandeng, Lt. Colonel Lamin Sanneh, Captain Njagga Jagne, Alagie Jaja Nyassie, were exhumed.
Sarr said he cannot reveal the identity of those to be exhumed saying “it is too early to say that.”
“We are on the move to get the pathologists as soon as possible from other countries to come and do the examination. We have a Coroner’s Act in the Gambia and all that the police are doing are in line with Coroner’s Act.
“At the police level, the Coroner has the final say in this situation and we are acting in consultation and with the approval of the Coroner,” Sarr said.
He was asked why the Gambia police has not made attempts to bring in Ousman Sonko, a former interior minister under Jammeh who is accused of several atrocities, but he said they have not found him connected to any crime.
Sonko, Jammeh’s longest serving interior minister, is widely criticized in Gambia as the criminal face of his regime before they fell out in early 2016.
“We haven’t got the evidence against Ousman Sonko on the allegations until his issue has been investigated. Ousman Sonko was the minister of Interior and so far we don’t have the involvement of the Interior ministry in this situation,” Sarr said.
He said they will request for Sonko who is currently arrested in Switzerland anytime they gather information incriminating him.