Ex-Gambia spy chief sentenced to death

A judge in The Gambia has sentenced to death the country’s former Intelligence Chief, Yankuba Badjie, and four other security agents for the killing in 2016 of a political activist in the final days of brutal rule under former President, Yahya Jammeh.

The activist, Ebrima Solo Sandeng – a leading figure in the opposition United Democratic Party – had been arrested during anti-government protests.

He died in prison two days later, having been beaten and tortured.

His death galvanised a wave of popular anger that eventually led to the ousting of President Jammeh after 22 years in power.

Mr Jammeh fled in 2017 to Equatorial Guinea, where he remained in exile.

More than five years ago, Gambian strongman, Yahya Jammeh, was defeated in a shock election result by now-President, Adama Barrow. Many thought this would usher in an era of change after 22 years of alleged human rights atrocities, but critics were concerned that many Jammeh loyalists remained in the new administration.

Yusupha Mbye, now 39, was left paralysed in 2000 as a student after he was shot by members of Yahya Jammeh’s security personnel, he said. He did not trust those currently in power to bring the perpetrators to book. Mr Mbye also felt let down by current President,Adama Barrow.

Under Mr Jammeh, The Gambia prospered economically, analysts said, but it was also plagued by serious atrocities including unlawful killings, mysterious disappearances of dissidents and even literal witch hunts.

Mr Jammeh, who went into exile in Equatorial Guinea, has previously denied any wrongdoing.

A commission set up to investigate his regime, the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), has called for the prosecution of Mr Jammeh for alleged crimes committed during his time in office.

But some in The Gambia felt the prospect of that happening was a distant dream because of the current administration’s closeness to that of its predecessor.

Hailed as a democratic hero after he defeated Mr Jammeh, few could have imagined that President Barrow would give several Jammeh loyalists key jobs in his government five years later. -BBC

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