Special criminal court sentence Gambia former minister to life imprisonment

A Special Criminal Court in Banjul has convicted and sentenced Dr Amadou Scatred Janneh former Gambian communication minister to life imprisonment with hard labour for being guilty of treason. Three of his accomplishes Michael C. Ucheh Thomas, Modou Keita and Ebrima Jallow, were also sentenced to three years each with hard labour. 

Dr Amadou S. Janneh, Former Gambia Communication minister

Dr Janneh and the rest were found guilty of treason and sedition. The four convicts and others at large conspired to print and distribute 100 T-shirts which carried ‘seditious’ statements: “Coalition for Change – The Gambia: End Dictatorship Now.”

The prosecution, led by the chief prosecutor, Mikailu Abdullahi called 14 witnesses to testify for the state and tendered as evidence a number of documents.

Some of the witnesses, including an employee to the wife of Dr Janneh confirmed that the former minister gave the said T-shirts to them.

However, on the 19th December 2011, defense counsel; Lamin S Camara informed the court that his clients were not going to open defence. He instead wished to rely on the evidences adduced by the state.

Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh was arrested by state security agents at his Commit company office, a local IT firm, in June 2011 and subsequently placed in remand custody at the maximum security wing of the State Central Prison Mile 2, before being moved to Old Jeshwang Prison a suburb of Banjul.

The case was later transferred to the Special Criminal Court in Banjul as the lower court lacks jurisdiction to hear treasonable offences.

In a move that many believe was inspired by the events in North Africa and Abrab spring Dr Janneh, Ndey Tapha Sosseh, Mathew K. Jallow and Famara Demba were accused of conspiring to over throw President Yahya Jammeh through a demonstration on 26 May 2011; a day that would have coincided with President Jammeh’s birthday.

Dr Janneh, a former political science lecturer in the US, at one time worked as the political and economic affairs officer of the US Embassy in Banjul.

Meanwhile; Ndey Tapha Sosseh, former president of the Gambia Press Union, Mathew K Jallow president of the Gambia Press Union USA branch and Famara Demba who were jointly charged with the convicts in absence were not mentioned in the judgment.

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Buya Jammeh, AfricaNews reporter in Dakar, Senegal

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