A large contingent of police crime and forensic experts, and other security officials yesterday combed forests in the Fonis to formally start the search for secret graves of victims of the former regime.
The search party set out Thursday morning in a convoy accompanied by suspected Jungulars who claimed to have knowledge of the bushes where victims were buried. Officials were first brought to the Santanba Forest near Bajonkoto Village in the west of Bwiam. There, a suspected Jungular (name withheld), narrated how he was called in at night by his superiors to take part in the burial of two people at a spot in the forest.
Investigators believed these are the bodies of Lance Corporal Tumani Jallow and Abdou Gaye, a businessman. The due had been confirmed to have been killed by the former regime.
“It was at night that I was called and when I turned up, we came here to bury two people. If I didn’t forget, it is this spot here. But it was at night,” said the suspect, pointing to a spot on the ground.
Forensic experts immediately set to work carefully digging and piling soil on a blue tarpaulin beside the trench.
As work progressed, a second suspected Jungular arrived under heavy escort and immediately suggested that the grave in question could not have been that near the road. ”It was well into the bush,” he told investigators who then abandoned work on the first trench to venture further into the bush. They returned with police public relations officer Foday Conta, disclosing that the day’s exercise was the beginning of a search that will not stop until justice is served for the families of the victims.
“As you can see we are led here by the suspects themselves who took part in the burials and we shall continue to work with them to search for these secret graves,” he told a small press corps at the site.
Sheriffo Camara, an uncle to the late Tumany Jallow, said his nephew was a victim of grave injustice. ”Tumany was a loyal soldier. He was called one day and questioned why one of the suspects of the arson attack on the APRC Bureau called his number and he told them that since they were co-workers, they naturally have each other’s numbers but he had nothing to do with the attack,” Camara said. He said the entire family was devastated when officials confirmed that he was not alive. “I came here to seek justice and I will not stop until we find him and give him a decent burial,” Camara told The Standard in the middle of the bush.
Meanwhile, the search party continued further east to Tintiba Forest, a swampy area near the Dumbuto Firing Range, North West of Bwiam. There, investigators revealed a marked spot cordoned off by crime experts. The spot is believed to be the graves of the December 30, 2014 State House attackers. A source in the search party told The Standard that work could not start on that particular grave because none of the victims’ family members was present. The search party departed the scene promising to come back until the victims are dug up and justice served.