The trial started in Germany on Monday of a Gambian man accused of being a part of a loss of life squad that assassinated opponents of former dictator Yahya Jammeh, together with an AFP journalist.
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.
Lowe was arrested in Hanover in March 2021 and can seem in court docket within the close by city of Celle.
The trial is “the first to prosecute human rights violations committed in Gambia during the Jammeh era on the basis of universal jurisdiction”, in accordance with Human Rights Watch.
Common jurisdiction permits a overseas nation to prosecute crimes in opposition to humanity, struggle crimes and genocide, no matter the place they have been dedicated.
Exterior the courtroom on Monday, activists held a placard demanding that Jammeh “and his accomplices be brought to justice”.
Lowe is accused of being concerned in two murders and one tried homicide whereas working as a driver for the hit squad generally known as the Junglers between December 2003 and December 2006.
“This unit was used by the then-president of Gambia to carry out illegal killing orders, among other things” with the intention of “intimidating the Gambian population and suppressing the opposition,” in accordance with federal prosecutors.
Hydara, 58, was gunned down in his automobile on the outskirts of the Gambian capital Banjul on December 16, 2004.
Lowe is accused of serving to to cease Hydara’s automobile and driving one of many killers in his personal automobile.
– Controversial column –
Hydara was an editor and co-founder of the unbiased every day The Level and a correspondent for AFP for over 30 years.
The daddy-of-four additionally labored as a Gambia correspondent for the NGO Reporters With out Borders (RSF) and was thought of a doyen amongst journalists within the tiny West African state.
In his newspaper The Level, he had a extensively learn column, “Good morning, Mr President”, through 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 “really stubborn” journalist, in accordance with his son Baba Hydara, 45.
“This is a day we have been waiting for for 18 years,” Baba Hydara advised AFP exterior the court docket.
“It’s an important day for justice but it is just the beginning of a long journey,” he mentioned, expressing a hope that Jammeh may even “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 advised a press convention forward of the trial that she hoped it might make clear “why, who and how they tried to kill my father”.
– ‘Signal’ –
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 and killed Dawda Nyassi, a suspected opponent of the president.
Jammeh dominated Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years however fled the nation in January 2017 after dropping a presidential election to relative unknown Adama Barrow.
He refused to acknowledge the outcomes however was compelled out by a well-liked rebellion and fled to Equatorial Guinea.
Lowe is the third alleged confederate of Jammeh to be detained overseas.
The opposite suspects are Gambia’s former inside minister, Ousman Sonko, below investigation in Switzerland since 2017, and one other former Jungler, Michael Sang Correa, indicted in June 2020 in america.
Patrick Kroker, a lawyer for Baba Hydara, advised AFP exterior the court docket that the opening of the trial was “an important day for justice”.
“We hope it will be a signal to… Switzerland and the United States, but also Gambia”, he mentioned.
“It is commendable that the German justice system is leading the way and a signal for the leaders in Gambia.”
Germany has been notably lively in pursuing instances below common jurisdiction, most notably in connection to the Syrian regime.