On Thursday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested a man accused of torturing individuals in the Republic of The Gambia, a small country in West Africa.
Michael Sang Correa, a 41-year-old Gambian national, faces one count of conspiracy to commit torture and six counts of inflicting torture upon specific individuals in The Gambia. Prosecutors allege Correa, a former member of a Gambian armed military unit called the Junglers, conspired with other individuals in 2006 to commit torture against suspected participants of a failed coup attempt against then-President Yahya Jammeh.
Correa and other members of the Junglers allegedly tortured six individuals in the following ways (via ICE):
The indictment alleges that during this time frame, in March and April 2006, the defendant and his co-conspirators severely and repeatedly beat their victims with their fists, feet, boots, and objects including plastic pipes, wires, and branches. The co-conspirators sometimes covered the victims' heads with plastic bags, restricting their ability to breathe, and subjected some victims to electrocution on various parts of their bodies. The indictment further alleges that one victim was suspended over the ground in a rice bag and beaten severely by the co-conspirators. Others had molten plastic or acid dripped on their bodies.
The multiagency investigation against Correa was led by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations with support from personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Banjul and the FBI Legal Attaché in Dakar. The case also received support from The Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, which was established in 2009 to help identify, locate, and prosecute human rights violators within the U.S.
Correa appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neurieter in the District Court of Colorado for the first time on Thursday
"Michael Correa allegedly committed heinous acts of violence against victim after victim in a brutal effort to coerce confessions from suspected coup plotters in The Gambia," said Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Criminal Division Brian A. Benczkowski. "These charges underscore that the United States will not be a safe haven for perpetrators of torture and that human rights violators will be held accountable and brought to justice."
According to ICE, the agency has arrested more than 460 individuals for various human rights violations under criminal and/or immigration statutes since 2003. During the same period, the agency also removed 1,057 known or suspected human rights violators and facilitated the departure of an additional 167 such individuals from the United States.