Seven risk imminent execution in Gambia: Amnesty

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 19, 2012 5:20 PM
Seven risk imminent execution in Gambia: Amnesty

BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambia's former army chief and six others risk imminent execution after the West African nation's supreme court dismissed their appeal against conviction on treason charges, Amnesty International said on Friday.

President Yahya Jammeh provoked an international outcry in August when he ordered the execution by firing squad of nine prisoners. Their deaths marked the first executions in the country in nearly 30 years.

Although he later suspended plans to execute the remaining 38 prisoners on death row, the government said the decision was only temporary.

The latest prisoners to face execution include former chief of defense staff Lieutenant General Lang Tombong Tamba and other former senior officers, who were convicted in 2010 of plotting to depose Jammeh, who himself came to power in a coup in 1994.

"The Gambian government must not carry out any executions, and commute as a matter of urgency the death sentences of the seven men," Lucy Freeman, Amnesty's West Africa program director, said.

"They must also uphold the moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty," she added.

The Gambian president has long faced criticism over his human rights record in a country that attracts British sun-seekers with its tropical climate and white beaches.

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It is unclear why Jammeh, who was re-elected last year in a poll that regional groups said had been marked by intimidation of voters and opponents, decided to begin executing prisoners.

He announced in 2007 that he had a herbal remedy that cured AIDS, but only on Thursdays, a statement dismissed by health experts.

(Reporting By Pap Saine; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Pravin Char)