Germany detains former Gambian elite guard suspected of war crimes


German police detained a Gambian man on Tuesday suspected of participating in crimes against humanity, including the killing of a journalist, as a driver in the elite guard of former President Yahya Jammeh, Germany’s federal prosecutor said.

The Federal Public Prosecutor General (GBA) identified the suspect as Bai L., under German privacy rules which bar releasing the surname of suspects.

It said the suspect had been a member of Jammeh’s elite guard, known as “the junglers”, for three years starting in December 2003, and on at least three occasions drove officers to locations where they fired on the president’s opponents.

According to a German judicial official, one of those was journalist Deyda Hydara, a critic of Jammeh’s government who was shot dead in 2004 on the outskirts of the capital Banjul.

A Gambian army officer, Malick Jatta, testified two years ago before a truth commission in Gambia that he and two colleagues had shot Hydara dead on the ex-president’s orders.

Bai L. was also charged with being the driver in attacks against a lawyer in 2003, and against another unidentified opponent of Jammeh, probably in 2006.

Police had searched his apartment in the northern city of Hannover, the GBA said. It did not say whether his arrest had been requested by Gambia.

Jammeh fled to Equatorial Guinea in 2017 after losing a presidential election, bringing an end to 22 years in power marked by extrajudicial killings, torture and forced disappearances as well as the embezzling of state assets.