Seven Gambian soldiers were sentenced Monday by a court martial to nine years in prison and another three years for treason and mutiny against President Adama Barrow, a few months after the forced departure of Yahya Jammeh.
In addition, two generals of the former president who had followed him in exile before returning to the Gambia in January 2018, accused of desertion, were acquitted.
Yahya Jammeh led for 22 years with an iron fist this small country of West Africa until his departure for Equatorial Guinea January 21, 2017 under the pressure of a regional force mainly composed of troops from Senegal neighbour.
Of 12 soldiers detained and charged since 2017, the Yundum Court Martial, 25 km from Banjul, acquitted four and convicted the other eight last week, before pronouncing sentences on Monday.
The president of the court martial, Colonel Salifu Bojang, read the names of the seven convicts sentenced to nine years in prison and their comrade sentenced to three years, all of whom were “indignantly degraded from the armed forces”.
The convicts and their relatives reacted to the verdict with shouting and crying, an AFP correspondent reported .
Colonel Bojang said the convicts plotted the arrest of ministers and army officials and created a WhatsApp group to plan attacks against the force of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ) in the region of origin of Yahya Jammeh.
On the other hand, generals Ansumana Tamba, former commander of the presidential guard, and Umpa Mendy, former head of Yahya Jammeh’s close protection, were acquitted at another court martial.
This decision has yet to be confirmed by the Chief of Staff under military regulations.
The two generals were each arrested at his home, after being able to leave the airport without being disturbed. President Barrow described the incident as a “wake-up call” shortly afterwards, saying it had resulted in the suspension of immigration officials.
The security of the country is always ensured by the strength of ECOWAS, whose mandate has been extended several times.
Yahya Jammeh reacted last week in a recording on WhatsApp to an incident in which a resident of his village of Kanilai was wounded on May 19 by a Gambian soldier, promising to “solve the problem,” without further details.
In March, a commission chaired by a lawyer, Surahata Semega Janneh, delivered a 1,600-page report accusing Yahya Jammeh of diverting some $ 360 million in 22 years of power.
But a survey published the same month by the consortium of Journalists Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project ( OCCRP ) estimated that amount to nearly a billion dollars.
In addition, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ( TRRC ), which is investigating the alleged crimes of the Jammeh regime, will begin its 5th hearing session on June 10.
Having come to power by a bloodless coup in 1994, Yahya Jammeh was largely elected and re-elected without interruption until his defeat in December 2016 against opponent Adama Barrow.
After six weeks of a rebound crisis caused by his refusal to give up power, he finally had to leave the country following the military intervention of ECOWAS and a final Guinean-Mauritanian mediation.