GAMBIA: SUPREME COURT SAYS DEATH SENTENCE FOR ALLEGED COUP PLOTTERS 'REASONABLE'
October 19, 2012: Gambia's Supreme Court upheld the death sentences passed on seven top brass for plotting a coup in 2009, including former army and intelligence chiefs and the ex-deputy police chief.
The five-member panel of judges of the Supreme Court, chaired by Nigerian-born Chief Justice of The Gambia, Emmanuel Agim, ruled that the appeal grounds were "insufficient and the testimonies of both witnesses corroborated."
Judges also ruled that the death sentence passed by the high court was "reasonable."
This was the last chance of appeal for the convicts after the court of appeal in April last year also upheld the death sentences.
The High Court in Banjul in July 2010 sentenced the eight to death. They include former army chief Langtombong Tamba, former intelligence chief Lamin Badjie and former deputy police chief Modou Gaye as well as two businessmen and three senior military officers.
However, one of the convicts, Lebanese businessman Youssef Ezziden was last seen in court a few weeks after they filed their appeal.
They were found guilty of procuring arms in neighbouring Guinea as well as on two counts of conspiracy for an alleged bid to overthrow the government of President Yahya Jammeh, who himself seized power through a bloodless coup in 1994.
Mr Jammeh, an outspoken military officer and former wrestler, is said to rule the country with an iron fist, repressing criticism and brushing off concerns over human rights abuse. The small nation which straddles a long river is popular among European tourists attracted to its beaches and reputation as the "smiling coast."
Earlier in August, Gambia's ministry of interior announced that nine people sentenced to death for various crimes were executed by firing squad.
This followed a week after President Jammeh announced that by mid-September, all death sentences would have been carried out, sparking worldwide condemnations. (Sources: Afp, 20/10/2012)