By Bakary Ceesay, in Germany
A German Court in the city of Celle on Thursday found guilty and convicted Bai Lowe to life imprisonment for the attempted murders of Journalist Deyda Hydra, Lawyer Ousman Sillah, and Dawda Nyassi, a soldier, as crimes against humanity.
He is charged with crimes against humanity, murder, and attempted murder, including the 2004 killing of AFP correspondent Deyda Hydara, which he vehemently denied.
Gambian and international civil society groups said on 30th November 2022, they will release a questions and answers document about the trial.
The groups are the African Network against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances (ANEKED), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the Gambian Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Rose Lokissim Association, the Solo Sandeng Foundation, and TRIAL International.
This trial is possible because Germany recognizes universal jurisdiction over certain serious crimes under international law, allowing for the investigation and prosecution of these crimes no matter where they were committed and regardless of the nationality of the suspects or victims.
The trial concerns Bai L., an alleged member of the ‘junglers, ‘ a paramilitary unit also known as the “Patrol Team,” which was set up by then-president Yahya Jammeh in the mid-1990s. Jammeh’s 22-year rule was marked by systematic oppression and widespread human rights violations, including torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and sexual violence against actual and perceived opponents.
German prosecutors accused Bai L. of being a Junglers driver involved in the attempted murder of Ousman Sillah, a lawyer; the murder of Deyda Hydara, a journalist; the attempted murder of Ida Jagne and Nian Sarang Jobe, who worked with the independent newspaper Hydara; and the murder of a former Gambian soldier, Dawda Nyassi.
Subsequently, the court was convinced about the prosecutor’s evidence and found him guilty and convicted him for his involvement in the attempted murder of Ousman Sillah, a lawyer; the murder of Deyda Hydara, a journalist; the attempted murder of Ida Jagne and Nian Sarang Jobe, who worked with the independent newspaper Hydara; and the murder of a former Gambian soldier, Dawda Nyassi.
The verdict in the Bai L. case represents a major step in the search for justice for years of abuses committed under Jammeh’s rule in The Gambia, the groups said. The Bai L. trial reinforces the role that governments like Germany can play in advancing justice for atrocities committed abroad under the principle of universal jurisdiction.