Friday, April 3, 2015 12:13 am
Three Gambian soldiers have been sentenced to death for their roles in a failed coup attempt, a leading human rights group said Thursday, condemning their “secret” trial and urging the country not to carry out the executions.
Amnesty International called the death sentences, handed down by a military court on Monday, “a cruel violation” of the right to a fair trial. Three other soldiers were sentenced to life in prison at the same trial.
“The trial was held in secret; media and independent observers were barred from observing the proceedings,” the London-based group said in a statement.
Two military sources contacted by AFP and speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the sentences.
The United Nations also expressed its concern about the legal proceedings.
“We hope that the six detainees will be allowed to appeal, as is their right, and we call upon the Gambian government to maintain its moratorium on the use of the death penalty,” said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
According to Amnesty, the last executions in Gambia were carried out in 2012, when nine prisoners were executed by firing squad.
The December 30 coup attempt saw a group of heavily armed men storm the presidential palace in Banjul before being repelled by forces loyal to Gambia’s leader of 20 years, Yahya Jammeh, who was out of the country at the time.
Amnesty International said in its statement that at least 30 family members of people alleged to have taken part in the coup were in January detained without charge.
Some have since been released, the group said, but “many remain in incommunicado detention three months on”.