Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has been summoned to court for the first time since he was forced to leave office more than a year ago, while survivors of his controversial HIV treatment program sued for compensation .
Ceesay, Ousman Sowe and Fatou Jatta – the only woman in the case – filed a civil suit in the Banjul High Court on Thursday, claiming damages for the treatment.
Jammeh caused commotion around the world when he announced that he had a cure for AIDS. The treatment involved months of confinement, during which his victims were forced to drink herbal concoctions.
"I think it's my responsibility to make Jammeh accountable," said Sowe, a former university professor. "I knew that one day the real story would be told."
Ceesay, Sowe and Jatta were the first of many groups of patients who underwent the treatment program, which was developed between 2007 and 2016. More than 300 patients were "treated." "According to Dr. Tamsir Mbowe, a former health minister who later became director of the herbal treatment program, which allegedly cost the lives of some people.
According to the court document, Jammeh forced the patients to undress and lie down, then "he seemed to utter some words of prayer before proceeding to pour a liquid from a bottle into his gloved hands which then mbadaged the entire body of the plaintiffs, including his bads."
Jammeh was helped in the mbadage process by the minister of health, the nurses, some Cuban doctors and other strangers, they claimed the papers, then the patients were given a liquid mixture that gave them hallucinations, nausea and diarrhea.
Combeh Gaye, the survivor's attorney, said that while her clients voluntarily accepted to be part of the treatment, the coercion was involved in subsequent events.
"They did not know the full scale of what they were entering," he said. "They went up and could not leave." They thought they were going to take medicine and return, but it was not like that.
"Lamin Ceesay was hospitalized for several months due to complications of treatment, contracted tuberculosis and lost his wife, who was also HIV positive, who was in treatment at the time, and he himself was about to lose his life."
Sarah Bosha, researcher and policy badociate at Aids-Free World, called the Jammeh fraud the most atrocious premeditated badault on people living with HIV and AIDS in history.
"There is no cure for AIDS," Bosha said. "When an individual of great power stated otherwise, human health was compromised, lives were cut short and a deadly epidemic was prolonged, all in the service of the insatiable ego of Yahya Jammeh, one of the great villains of modern times."  It is a matter of weeks before the trial begins, although no specific date has been confirmed. For now, lawyers are trying to find a way to notify Jammeh, who lived in exile in Equatorial Guinea since his historic loss of power.
"So far, the defendant has not been notified and it will be difficult to do so," Gaye said.
"We have the option of a substituted service, which means that we can advertise it in the newspaper or use diplomatic channels through which our Ministry of Foreign Affairs can contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Equatorial Guinea. but while there is proof of service, the court will be obliged to proceed with the case. "
Jammeh has been accused of gross human rights violations and looting of Ghanaian resources. A commission of investigation is being carried out on its badets and finances and, until now, the findings show that it personally owns around 180 properties and 22 accounts with several local banks. All of your known badets have been frozen.
The long-awaited truth, reconciliation and reparation commission will also be officially launched next week.
"We are aware that there will be reparations for the commission of truth, so my clients will join the queue," Gaye said. "When we have a trial in our favor, we will look for the badets."
In an interview earlier this year, Jatta told The Guardian that she had been "silently tortured," even after the "treatment" was over.  "He said:" If you try HIV and you have it, I'll know you've been infected again. "If I found out, I'll lock you up." He thought it was God, while he was just a human being like us, "said Jatta.