Gambian court hands down death sentences for Jammeh-era murder of political activist

A Gambian court on Wednesday sentenced five former members of the intelligence service to death for the murder of a political activist during the rule of ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh.

High Court Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara pronounced the sentence against the former head of the National Intelligence Agency, Yankuba Badjie, after finding him guilty of murdering Ebrima Solo Sandeng, an important figure in the opposition United Democratic Party, in 2016.

Badjie was also convicted of bodily harm.

The agency’s former operations chief, Sheikh Omar Jeng, as well as NIA officials Babucarr Sallah, Lamin Darboe and Tamba Mansary, were convicted on the same charges and sentenced to death by the Banjul court.

Sandeng was arrested during an April 2016 demonstration against Jammeh. He died in custody two days later after having been beaten and tortured.

His death galvanised a political movement that eventually ousted Jammeh, who had ruled the tiny West African nation for 22 years.

Haruna Susso, another NIA official, and Lamin Sanyang, a nurse, were found not guilty of murder or bodily harm.