Gambia: Former intelligence chief and four others sentenced to death

By 'Tofe Ayeni
Posted on Thursday, 14 July 2022 18:28

Republic of Gambia President Yahya Jammeh waves during his arrival in Manila June 20, 2005. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

The former head of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in Gambia, Yankuba Badjie, and four other security agents have been sentenced to death for the 2016 killing of a political activist in the final days of former President Yahya Jammeh’s brutal regime.

High Court Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara sentenced Badjie, NIA former operations chief Sheikh Omar Jeng, and other officials Babucarr Sallah, Lamin Darboe and Tamba Mansary to death for the murder of Ebrima Solo Sandeng, a leading figure in the opposition United Democratic Party. Badjie was also found guilty of bodily harm.

Sandeng was arrested during anti-government protests and died in custody two days later, having been subject to beatings and torture.

Justice is catching up to Yahya Jammeh’s henchmen in Gambia and around the world and hopefully it will soon catch up to Yahya Jammeh himself.

His death sparked a nationwide outrage that eventually led to the ousting of President Jammeh after 22 years of power. Jammeh fled to Equatorial Guinea that has no extradition treaty with Gambia, and has been in exile there since 2017.

Reed Brody, a lawyer with the International Commission of Jurists who works with victims of the Jammeh regime said: “Justice is catching up to Yahya Jammeh’s henchmen in Gambia and around the world and hopefully it will soon catch up to Yahya Jammeh himself.” In 2017, current President Adama Barrow changed the name of the NIA to the State Intelligence Services (SIS).

  • Haruna Susso, another NIA official, and Lamin Sanyang, a nurse, were found not guilty of both murder and bodily harm.
  • Another official, Yusupha Jammeh, had been accused but was later acquitted. The former deputy director of the NIA, Louie Richard Leese Gomez, was also accused but passed away before the verdict.

Jammeh’s legacy

Although analysts say that the country prospered economically under Jammeh, citizens were subjected to many human rights abuses, which the former president denies.

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), set up to investigate the regime, has called for the prosecution of Jammeh for alleged crimes committed during his two decades in power.

In May, the Gambian government said it will prosecute the former dictator for murder, rape, torture, and other crimes. The Ministry of Justice said it will accept 263 out of the 265 recommendations by the commission.

The government statement said: “For 22 years, Yahya Jammeh ruled The Gambia with an iron fist. During his regime, extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, enforced disappearances, and numerous grievous human rights violations became part and parcel of his military Junta.”

However, this trial that will lead to Badjie’s execution, which began in 2017, was currently the only ongoing domestic trial into the administration’s alleged atrocities.

Politician Yankuba Touray had been sentenced to death last year in the country for the 1995 murder of finance minister Koro Ceesay, but he has since appealed. Other Jammeh loyalists have been tried globally – in Germany, Switzerland and the US.

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