Joseph Joof, former Attorney General of the Jammeh regime, has told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission that security officers shot live bullets at student protesters on April 10/11 2000.
The security personnel were deployed by the regime to crackdown on student protesters. Fifteen students and a journalist were killed, and dozens of others sustained life changing injuries.
Mr Joof, who was the government’s legal adviser and a member of the April 10/11 Commission set up in the aftermath of the bloody student crackdown, testified at the TRRC on Tuesday.
“It’s almost 20 years since then. So off the cuff, all I can say is that those soldiers and members of the security forces who were deployed on the day actually fired on the school children and they killed some of those children. Others were tortured unlawfully, detained unlawfully,” Mr Joof told the Commission.
Meanwhile, he defended the Commission that looked into the April 10/11 incident saying: “I believed they did what they did because we were set out to do that and we had no other reason for arriving at the decision we did.
“We were ever concerned about the fate of those children about what happened and ensure that it never happened again in The Gambia.”
“We were interested in evidence,” Mr Joof said, but added “many of the witnesses didn’t however go direct in mentioning the name of the person who gave them order to shoot.
“As I said they were saying mostly it’s from above. But we tried to follow the chain-of-command and there were heads of platoons who were there that day because it has all kinds of connotations [including] civil and criminal liabilities.
“We set out to look into that but the evidence we have was not sufficient to pin liability on any other person at the time.
“If somebody comes and said X did this, Y said this…we were very apprehensive of any political motive or other motive and so we felt we were safe to concede to hard evidence on the ground at the time.”
The hearing continues.
Reporting by Adama Makasuba