Germany has charged a man with being part of an army unit that carried out assassinations on behalf of former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh, according to Germany’s federal public prosecutors.
The suspect, Gambian national Bai L, is accused of crimes against humanity, murder and attempted murder, including the 2004 killing of an AFP news agency journalist, Deyda Hydara.
Bai L allegedly worked as a driver for a hit squad known as the Junglers between December 2003 and December 2006.
“This unit was used by the then president of Gambia to carry out illegal killing orders, among other things” with the aim of “intimidating the Gambian population and suppressing the opposition”, prosecutors in the city of Karlsruhe said on Thursday.
The West African state was ruled by Jammeh for 22 years before he fled in 2017 after losing a presidential election to Adama Barrow, a relative unknown.
The case is being brought on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows a foreign country to prosecute crimes against humanity, including war crimes and genocide, regardless of where they were committed.
Germany has been particularly active in pursuing such cases linked to the Syrian regime, and in January sentenced a former Syrian colonel to life in jail for crimes against humanity.
Bai L, identified by German media as Bai Lowe, is accused of involvement in the attempted murder of a lawyer in 2003 and the 2004 murder of Gambian journalist Hydara, who had been critical of the government.
Hydara was the editor and co-founder of independent daily The Point and correspondent for AFP for 30 years.
In a third incident in 2006, the accused allegedly drove members of the unit to a site near Banjul airport where they shot dead a suspected opponent of the president, the prosecutors said.
The suspect was arrested in Hanover in March 2021 and has since been in pre-trial detention.