Deyda Hydara murder: Gambian sentenced in Germany for crimes against humanity

Bai Lowe walking out of the court and covering his face
Image caption,Bai Lowe was arrested in Germany in 2021

A court in Germany has sentenced a Gambian man to life in prison for his role in a paramilitary unit that killed opponents of former ruler Yahya Jammeh.

Bai Lowe, 47, was a driver for the unit known as “the Junglers”, and was convicted of crimes against humanity, murder and attempted murder.

Among the crimes he was linked to was the killing of newspaper editor Deyda Hydara in his car in 2004.

The unit was widely seen as a death squad targeting opponents of Mr Jammeh.

He ruled The Gambia with an iron fist from 1996 until he went into exile in 2017 after losing elections.

A truth and reconciliation commission set up after he left power heard from hundreds of witnesses about executions squads and other alleged rights violations committed under his 22-year rule.

In a joint statement, human rights groups said the case in Germany was “a major step in the search for justice for years of abuses committed under Jammeh’s rule”.

Mr Jammeh has denied any wrongdoing.

Lowe was tried in Germany under the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, following his arrest in Hanover in 2021.

He was accused of helping to stop Hydara’s car and driving one of the assassins away.

Hydara, the editor of The Point newspaper who also worked for the AFP news agency, was a fierce critic of draconian media laws in The Gambia.

The well-respected journalist was gunned down on the outskirts of the capital, Banjul, in December 2004. No-one was charged with his murder.

His killing caused global outrage and his newspaper incorporated his photo into its masthead with the question: “Who killed Deyda Hydara?”

Lowe was also accused of being the driver during the attempted murder of lawyer Ousman Sillah in December 2003.

His trial was “the first to tackle human rights violations committed in The Gambia during the Jammeh era on the basis of universal jurisdiction”, campaign group Human Rights Watch said.

The prosecutor said Lowe had been a member of the Junglers, the notorious unit that reported directly to Mr Jammeh, between December 2003 and December 2006.

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