News24

Coup plotters sentenced to death

2010-07-15 19:08

Banjul - Gambia's former army chief, intelligence chief and deputy police chief were among eight top brass on Thursday sentenced to death for their role in a 2009 coup plot.

"After going through the evidence of the prosecution and the defence I find all the persons guilty and accordingly sentence them to death on all three counts," said Judge Emmanuel Amabi.

The eight accused include former army chief Langtombong Tamba, former intelligence chief Lamin Badjie and the former deputy chief of police Modou Gaye.

They were found guilty of procuring arms from neighbouring Guinea as well as two counts of conspiracy with the aim of overthrowing the government of Yahya Jammeh, who himself came to power via a bloodless coup in 1994.

This is not the first time army officers in the small west African country have been accused of plotting against the Jammeh administration.

Eleven people were jailed over a 2006 coup attempt.

Iron fist

Chief state prosecutor Richard Chenge told the court in his closing argument Thursday: "Coup plots are on the increase in the Gambia. Unless we put a stop to it this country will be messed up.

"I urge the court to set an example by sentencing the accused to death."

President Jammeh, an outspoken military officer and former wrestler, is said to rule the tiny country, nestled within Senegal, with an iron fist, repressing criticism and brushing off concerns over human rights abuses.

The allegations of repeated coup plots are seen as a sign of insecurity by the president, who regularly reshuffles his governments and, according to a political analyst gets "rid of anybody he sees as a threat to his regime."

Amnesty International has slammed the government for illegal arrests and detentions.

The last time someone was executed in Gambia was in 2007.