Deyda Hydara : German Court Sentences Driver in Gambia’s Elite Guard to Life in Prison for Crimes Against Humanity

Death – Obituary – Accident and Crime News : German Court Sentences Driver of Former Gambian President to Life in Prison for Crimes Against Humanity

MUNICH/BANJUL, Nov 30 (Reuters) – A driver in the elite guard of former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has been sentenced to life in prison by a German court for crimes against humanity, murder, and attempted murder. These crimes resulted in the death of a journalist and two other opponents of Jammeh’s rule.

This landmark conviction provides a rare piece of justice for victims who suffered under Jammeh’s regime. Jammeh, who came to power in a coup in 1994, ruled with an iron fist until he was ousted from Gambia in 2017 by regional forces after refusing to accept defeat in an election.

Throughout his rule, Jammeh has been accused of numerous atrocities, including mass killings, dumping bodies in wells, falsely claiming to have a herbal cure for AIDS, and rape. However, he has not publicly commented on these allegations and currently resides in exile in Equatorial Guinea.

The driver, identified as Bai L., was a member of Jammeh’s elite guard known as “the junglers” between 2003 and 2006, according to German prosecutors who filed charges against him last year. They stated that Bai L. drove officers to locations where they fired on opponents of Jammeh on three separate occasions.

During the trial at the regional court in Celle, Germany, Bai L. denied any involvement in the crimes. However, the court found him guilty, and the verdict can still be appealed.

Germany’s recognition of universal jurisdiction for serious crimes allowed Bai L. to be tried in the country, despite the offenses taking place in Gambia.

The Celle court convicted Bai L. for his role in the murders of at least three of Jammeh’s opponents, including journalist Deyda Hydara, who was shot dead in 2004 on the outskirts of the capital Banjul, and an attack on a lawyer in 2003.

The verdict was welcomed by Deyda Hydara’s son, Baba Hydara, who sees it as a milestone in holding perpetrators accountable.

Gambia’s government announced last year its intention to prosecute Jammeh for killings and other suspected crimes, following a recommendation from a truth and reconciliation commission.

Reed Broody, a former war crimes prosecutor who has worked with Gambian victims, emphasized that this conviction shows that those who committed abuses “can run but they can’t hide.”

The sentencing of Bai L. in Germany is a significant step forward in seeking justice for the victims of Jammeh’s brutal regime. It highlights the importance of holding individuals accountable for crimes against humanity and sends a message that impunity will not be tolerated.

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