Gambian authorities dropped charges against a leading opposition figure on Thursday, a day after human rights organisation Amnesty International said he was at risk of being tortured in jail.

Halifa Sallah, who challenged President Yahya Jammeh in the most recent presidential elections in 2006, was arrested 11 days ago and charged with spying, sedition and holding an illegal meeting.

At the time party officials said he had been investigating reports of a violent hunt for suspected witches involving the security forces, party officials and Amnesty said.

“All charges have been dropped. According to the director of public prosecutions, they did that in the interest of truth and justice,” Sam Sarr, an executive member of the National Alliance for Democracy and Development.

Prosecution officials could not be reached for immediate comment on Thursday.

Sallah was granted bail last week, but was unable to meet the bail terms and had been held at the country’s main jail.

Amnesty International said in a report on Wednesday that witch doctors and security forces in Gambia had detained up to 1,000 people on suspicion of being witches.

Victims have been held in secret detention camps for up to five days and forced to drink hallucinogenic substances which have killed at least two people through kidney failure, while others had been beaten almost to death, Amnesty said.


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