Crime

US charges ex-Gambian dictator’s bodyguard over torture

A Gambian man has been indicted in Colorado on federal charges that he tortured planners of a failed 2006 presidential coup when he was a member of a special armed unit that reported on to the dictator of the African country , prosecutors said Thursday.

Michael Sang Correa, 41, was charged under a U.S. law that’s been used only twice before allowing non-citizens who are suspected of committing torture in other countries to be prosecuted, U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn of Colorado said.

“Michael Correa allegedly committed heinous acts of violence against victim after victim during a brutal effort to coerce confessions,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski.

Correa made an initial court appearance on seven criminal charges: one count of conspiracy to commit torture and 6 counts of inflicting torture on specific individuals.

Correa had been living in Denver and dealing as each day laborer since sometime after 2016, prosecutors said. He has been held in an immigration detention facility outside Denver since last year.

He was represented at his initial hearing by an attorney with the federal public defender’s office, which doesn’t discuss cases. An email request for comment sent to the Gambian embassy after hours wasn’t immediately returned.

Prosecutors allege Correa was a member of an armed unit that physically and mentally tortured people that were suspected of plotting a failed coup against former president Yahya Jammeh. Correa is accused of being a part of that conspiracy and torturing six people.

Correa and his alleged co-conspirators allegedly beat the detainees using their feet, pipes and wires, sometimes covering their heads with plastic bags, and also administering electric shocks to their bodies, including their genitals.

Correa’s unit, referred to as the Junglers, was made from people that had been chosen from the Gambian soldiers , but reported on to Jammeh and operated outside of the military’s chain of command.

Jammeh was a 22-year dictator of Gambia , a rustic surrounded by Senegal apart from alittle Atlantic coastline, and was accused of ordering opponents tortured, jailed and killed. He lost a presidential election and went into exile in Equatorial Guinea in 2017 after initially refusing to step down.

Correa came to the us to function a bodyguard for Jammeh in December 2016 but remained within the U.S. after Jammeh was ousted and overstayed his visa, Dunn said.

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