The trial of a Gambian man accused of being a part of a loss of life squad that assassinated opponents of former President Yahya Jammeh, together with a journalist of the AFP information company, has begun in Germany.
The suspect, recognized by media as Bai Lowe, is accused of crimes in opposition to humanity, homicide and tried homicide, together with the 2004 killing of AFP correspondent Deyda Hydara, who was additionally co-founder of Gambian unbiased day by day The Level.
Lowe, arrested in Hanover in March 2021, will seem in courtroom on Monday within the close by city of Celle.
The trial is “the primary to prosecute human rights violations dedicated in [The] Gambia in the course of the Jammeh period on the idea of common jurisdiction”, in line with Human Rights Watch.
Common jurisdiction permits a overseas nation to prosecute crimes in opposition to humanity, warfare crimes and genocide, no matter the place they had been dedicated.
Outdoors the courtroom on Monday, activists held a placard demanding that Jammeh “and his accomplices be dropped at justice”.
Lowe is accused of being concerned in two murders and one tried homicide whereas working as a driver for the hit squad, often known as the Junglers, between December 2003 and December 2006.
“This unit was utilized by the then-president of Gambia to hold out unlawful killing orders, amongst different issues” with the intention of “intimidating the Gambian inhabitants and suppressing the opposition,” in line with federal prosecutors.
Hydara, 58, was gunned down in his automotive on the outskirts of the Gambian capital, Banjul, on December 16, 2004.
Lowe is accused of serving to to cease Hydara’s automotive and driving one of many killers in his personal automobile.
Hydara was an editor and co-founder of the unbiased day by day The Level and correspondent for AFP for greater than 30 years.
The daddy-of-four additionally labored as a Gambia correspondent for the NGO Reporters With out Borders (RSF) and was thought-about a doyen amongst journalists within the tiny West African state.
In The Level, he had a broadly learn column, “Good morning, Mr President”, during which he expressed his views on Gambian politics.
Based on investigations by RSF, Hydara was being spied on by Gambian intelligence providers simply earlier than his loss of life.
Hydara was a tenacious and “actually cussed” journalist, in line with his son Baba Hydara, 45.
“This can be a day we have now been ready for for 18 years,” Baba Hydara instructed AFP outdoors the courtroom.
“It’s an vital day for justice however it’s only the start of an extended journey,” he mentioned, expressing a hope that Jammeh may also “be judged”.
Prosecutors additionally accuse Lowe of driving members of the Junglers to a location in Banjul in 2003 to assassinate lawyer Ousman Sillah, who survived the assault with severe accidents.
His daughter Amie Sillah instructed a information convention earlier than the trial that she hoped it might make clear “why, who and the way they tried to kill my father”.
In a 3rd incident in 2006, Lowe is accused of driving members of the unit to a web site close to Banjul airport the place they shot lifeless Dawda Nyassi, a suspected opponent of the president.
For greater than 20 years, Jammeh dominated The Gambia with an iron fist however fled the nation in January 2017 after dropping a presidential election to the relatively unknown Adama Barrow. He refused to acknowledge the outcomes however was compelled out by a well-liked rebellion and fled to Equatorial Guinea.
A fact and reconciliation fee established by Barrow has recommended that the former president face trial for human rights abuses beneath the latter’s tenure.
Lowe is the third alleged confederate of Jammeh to be detained overseas.
The opposite suspects are Gambia’s former inside minister, Ousman Sonko, beneath investigation in Switzerland since 2017, and one other former Jungler, Michael Sang Correa, indicted in June 2020 in the USA.
Patrick Kroker, a lawyer for Baba Hydara, instructed AFP outdoors the courtroom that the opening of the trial was “an vital day for justice”.