Former army chief Baboucarr Jatta

The Gambia’s former army chief has told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission that soldiers were deployed with live and rubber bullets to quell the April 10/11 student protests.

Rtd Colonel Baboucarr Jatta was army chief of Defence Staff in 2000 when security personnel shot dead twelve students and injured many others at a protest demanding justice for the death of their colleague, Ebrima Barry.

“They carried live ammunitions to protect themselves because they (soldiers) were on their own,” he told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission on Thursday.

He said the soldiers were ordered by him after he received an order from the former Vice President Dr Isatou Njie Saidy, adding that he also deployed soldiers to Farafenni, Brikama Ba and Basse.

Despite accepting the brutalities committed by soldiers on the protesting students before the Truth Commission, the former army commander denied giving orders for the shooting of live ammunition at the student protesters.

He pointed out that: “anyone below me wouldn’t give that order, it must be above me” adding that his superiors in the Jammeh regime were the minister of Defence, Vice President and the President.

The retired army chief told the Commission that the soldiers were deployed because the police claimed they could no longer contained the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, Rtd Colonel Jatta also confessed to lying to the Commission of Inquiry which was established in 2000 to probe into the April 10/11 protests, saying “the document submitted to the Commission of Inquiry was to mislead the Commission” and that it was a falsification by the then government to cover up.

However, Mr. Jatta apologised to the families of the April 10/11 victims, “I wish to say to their families that I am very sorry for the pain they have gone through all these years.”

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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