Gambia: Former Death Squad Member Sentenced to Life Imprisonment in Germany

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read

In a landmark trial addressing crimes committed during the Jammeh era in Gambia, Bai Lowé, a former “jungler” – a member of the death squads that instilled terror during that period – was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday, November 30, in Germany. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity for his involvement in multiple murders.

One of the crimes that sparked widespread outrage was the killing of journalist Deyda Haydara, the AFP correspondent in Banjul at the time, who was fatally shot on December 16, 2004. Bai Lowé served as the driver who transported the assailants to the journalist.

Having sought refuge in Germany for a decade, Bai Lowé was apprehended in Hanover in March 2021. Throughout the trial, he denied participating in the journalist’s murder and the three other crimes heard by the Federal Court in Celle, northern Germany.

Although not the principal perpetrator, Bai Lowé’s life sentence marks a significant step forward for Deyda Hydara’s son in his prolonged quest for justice. “It’s been almost twenty years since we started this fight for justice. We know that the mastermind behind my father’s killers was Jammeh, who, we hope, will soon face a tribunal,” expressed Baiba Hydara after the court’s decision on Thursday.

By convicting Bai Lowé, the judges explicitly acknowledged that the former Gambian president, currently in exile in Equatorial Guinea, was the mastermind. This declaration represents the first time such a statement has been made in a court by a judge. For Baiba Hydara, this acknowledgment marks a significant advancement in the German trial.

A precedent for Gambian crimes, this trial was made possible under universal jurisdiction, allowing the prosecution of the most serious crimes, even in another country. The verdict sets a critical precedent in holding individuals accountable for atrocities committed during the Jammeh regime and signals a potential path toward justice for other victims of his brutal rule.

Soukaina Sghir

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