By: Bakary Ceesay, In Germany
German prosecutors on Thursday demanded life in prison for a Gambian man accused of belonging to a death squad that murdered opponents of former dictator Yahya Jammeh, including an AFP journalist.
A spokesman for the court holding the trial in the northern German town of Celle said federal prosecutors called for the maximum sentence for Bai Lowe.
But they stopped short of asking the tribunal to determine a “particular severity of guilt,” meaning he could be held beyond the usual 15 years in prison followed by a release on parole that generally accompanies a life sentence.
Lowe, who went on trial in April 2022, is accused of involvement in two murders and one attempted murder while working as a driver for the hit squad known as the Junglers between December 2003 and December 2006.
He is charged with crimes against humanity, murder, and attempted murder, including the 2004 killing of AFP correspondent Deyda Hydara.
It is one of the first cases worldwide to hear accusations of serious human rights violations during the Jammeh era in Gambia, a former British colony.
Lowe has denied the charges in court, telling the judges in October 2022: “I did not participate in these acts,” in a statement read out by his lawyer.
The proceedings are being held in Germany based on universal jurisdiction, which allows a foreign country to prosecute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide, regardless of where they were committed.
Hydara was an editor and co-founder of the independent daily The Point and an AFP correspondent for over 30 years.
The father-of-four also worked as a Gambia correspondent for the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) campaign group. He was gunned down in his car on the outskirts of Banjul on December 16, 2004.