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Gambia court ruling may clear way for Jammeh prosecution

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An image grab taken on December 3, 2016 from a video of the Gambia and Television Services (GRTS) broadcasted on December 2, 2016, in Banjul shows outgoing Gambian President Yahya Jammeh speaking during a press conference after being defeated during the presidential election. Jammeh conceded defeat to opposition leader Adama Barrow on December 2, 2016 accepting that Gambians had “decided that I should take the backseat”. The Gambia’s President-elect Adama Barrow was to hold talks with his coalition the day after to plot his transition to power, following a shock election victory that ended the 22-year rule of Yahya Jammeh. / AFP PHOTO / GRTS – Gambia Radio and Television Services / Handout

The Gambia’s Supreme Court has ruled that an ally of ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh can be prosecuted, in a landmark case that could clear the way towards charges against the former autocrat himself.

Jammeh seized power in 1994 as part of a bloodless military coup in the tiny West African state.

He then ruled with an iron fist until January 2017, when he fled to Equatorial Guinea after losing presidential elections to a relative unknown, Adama Barrow.

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Gambia’s government established a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) to investigate these alleged abuses, which has heard several hundred witness testimonies since 2019.

That year, Yankuba Touray — a member of the junta that ruled The Gambia for some two years after the 1994 coup — refused to testify at the TRRC.

Public prosecutors then charged the Jammeh ally for his alleged role in the 1995 murder of former Gambian finance minister Ousman Koro Ceesay.

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But Touray’s lawyers argued that, as a former junta member, the constitution guaranteed him immunity from prosecution.

The Gambia’s Supreme Court dismissed the argument in a unanimous verdict on Wednesday, according to a copy of the judgement seen by AFP.

The principle behind the decision clears a hurdle to prosecuting Jammeh himself, as the former dictator headed the 1994-1996 junta.

While Jammeh, 55, still has his supporters in the poor nation, there have also been calls for him to be returned to the country for prosecution.

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GambiaYahya Jammeh
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