General Saul Badjie and former president Yahya Jammeh

A former guard of ex-president Yahya Jammeh has told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that General Saul Badjie commanded the arson attack on the Independent Newspaper in 2004.

Yusupha Sanneh said on Wednesday that a team of State Guards including Sanna Manjang, Sheriff Jisseh, Michael Correa, General Saul Badjie and Bora Colley were involved in the attack.

The remains of a burnt out printing press

Mr Sanneh said General Saul Badjie told the team that former President Jammeh had ordered them to burn down the Independent Newspaper.

He claimed that General Badjie gave them a gallon containing fuel for them to execute their ”mission”. He said he lied to him that his knee had a problem and he wouldn’t be able to run, adding that General Badjie told him that he was an “idiot”.

Mr Sanneh said the car used by the team was parked 40 metres away from the Independent Newspaper offices on the night of the arson attack. He said while in the car he was able to see flames coming out of the building.

A copy of the The Independent newspaper

“We heard noises and they (the soldiers) were running and people were shouting ‘fire’. Sanna Manjang’s hat was on fire and we helped him put it out. His body was burned up to his stomach. (In his state of panic) he (Sanna Manjang) left his pistol at the scene.” he said.

He said Sanna Manjang, who suffered severe burns from the attack, was treated at a clinic in Kanilai.

Mr Sanneh said General Badjie stopped calling him for patrol duties after the failed arson attack.

The Independent Newspaper was a privately owned bi-weekly publication that was critical of the APRC government and its undemocratic rule. The editorial staff of the paper were the most persecuted journalists in The Gambia.

It ceased publication in March 2006 after an arson attack on the paper’s offices and the repeated arrests and exiled of the editorial staff.

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