Gambia

Gambia: alleged ex-member of 'Junglers' killing squad arrested in Germany

Protesters hold banners bearing the faces of victims of the regime of former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, during a demonstration calling for Jammeh to be brought to justice in Banjul, 25 January, 2020.
Protesters hold banners bearing the faces of victims of the regime of former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, during a demonstration calling for Jammeh to be brought to justice in Banjul, 25 January, 2020. ROMAIN CHANSON / AFP

A former member of the Gambian armed forces elite squad called the ‘Junglers’ was arrested in Germany on Tuesday, accused of crimes against humanity, including allegedly aiding in the killing of journalist Deyda Hydara.

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The Gambian national, whose name was released as ‘Bai L.’ was arrested in Germany, where he has been living, and his home was also searched, according to a statement from the Federal Public Prosecutor General’s office in Hanover. The arrest warrant had been issued on 3 March.

He is accused of being part of the “Junglers” so-called ‘Patrol Team’ between December 2003 and December 2006, when he worked as a driver. The Junglers were known for carrying out assassinations, their orders given directly by then-president Yahya Jammeh.

The defendant was allegedly part of carrying out three liquidation orders from Jammeh, including a hit on a lawyer in Banjul, Gambia’s capital, in December 2003. Bai L. is accused of driving the vehicle with other members of the Junglers to the scene of the attack. The lawyer was shot by one of the men, but he survived the murder attempt.

In 2006, members shot dead an alleged opponent of the Gambian president near Banjul airport. Bai L. transported the other accomplices to the scene.

Deyda Hydara’s death

According to the prosecutor’s statement, the “Patrol Team” killed a Gambian journalist who was critical of the government in December 2004.

“To this end, the unit, with the assistance of Bai L., stopped the journalist's car on a street in the city of Kanifing,” according to the statement.

“Subsequently, two members of the unit killed him with several shots, with Bai L. transporting one of the shooters in his vehicle,” it added.

Although it does not name him outright, it describes the assassination of Deyda Hydara, editor and co-founder of the independent The Point daily newspaper. As one of the few figures who represented a critical voice against Yahya Jammeh, his death rocked Gambia. His name as a respected journalist was a symbol for the fight to get Jammeh out of power.

Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission was set up in October 2018 to investigate alleged abuses under his 22-year rule.

In July 2019, a former soldier implicated Jammeh in Hydara’s death, saying he called for him to be assassinated.

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