In order to ensure that the trial of an alleged Gambian hit squad member is accessible to the Gambian public, The Point Newspaper and the University of Göttingen will monitor the court proceedings, the two institutions announced on 23 April 2022.
The trial-of Bai Lowe, an alleged member of the “Junglers” paramilitary unit set up by ex-president Yahya Jammeh-opened on April 25 in the German city of Celle. It is the first international trial of human rights violations committed in Gambia during the Jammeh era.
The trial will be conducted in German without public interpretation, which will make it less accessible to non-German speakers. The verdict will only be available in German, and no official transcript in any language will be provided.
To remedy this, students from Göttingen University will attend each court session and take notes in English. The notes will then be curated by TRIAL International and the International Commission of Jurists and used by The Point and made available to other publications to keep Gambians informed of trial proceedings. The student group is coordinated by Professor Kai Ambos and Dr. Alexander Heinze from the Institute of Criminal Law and Justice, in cooperation with the Göttingen chapter of the European Law Students Association (ELSA).
“To be meaningful, justice should not only be done, but be seen to be done,” said Professor Ambos. “We hope that through this monitoring, Gambians in particular will be able to follow the trial.”
Lowe is charged with three counts of crimes against humanity. German prosecutors accuse Bai L. of being a former driver for the Junglers, who was involved in the attempted murder of Ousman Sillah, a lawyer, in 2003, as well as in the murders of Deyda Hydara, the editor of The Point newspaper, in 2004, and of Dawda Nyassi, a perceived political opponent of Jammeh in 2006.
The trial is scheduled to last at least until early 2023.
Bai L., who was arrested by the German authorities in March 2021, is the third alleged accomplice of Jammeh to be detained abroad. The other suspects are Gambia’s former interior minister, Ousman Sonko, under investigation in Switzerland since 2017, and another former Jungler, Michael Sang Correa, indicted in June 2020 in the United States.
“The long arm of the law is catching up to Yahya Jammeh and his accomplices around the world,” said Reed Brody of the International Commission of Jurists.
“This trial could shed light not just on my dad’s murder but on the whole chain of command leading up to Yahya Jammeh,” said Baba Hydara, son of Deyda Hydara and a plaintiff in the German prosecution, and who is now the manager of The Point. “We want folks in The Gambia to know what is happening in this trial and to use it to press forward for justice in The Gambia too.”