By Alagie Manneh
Baba Hydara, son of slain Gambian publisher Deyda Hydara, has expressed his delight at the commencement of the trial of ‘death squad’ member Bai Lowe in Celle, Germany yesterday.
Addressing waiting international journalists alongside his lawyer outside the Regional Court, Mr Hydara said the family has anxiously awaited 18 years for the trial.
He said the case is symbolic as it marked the trial of the first Jungler since the ousting of the Jammeh dictatorship six years ago.
“Germany welcoming this trial is so big, and it sent a loud message that impunity cannot go on, and it will be punished, even if justice is being delivered in faraway Germany,” Mr Hydara stated.
A soft-spoken Mr Hydara prayed the trial is the beginning of the start of “many trials”, and appealed for more universal jurisdiction trials to combat impunity around the globe.
“If we work like this between countries, it will make the world a safer place because it wouldn’t matter where you commit the crime. We have to make sure such crimes are punished.”
The first day of the trial has been largely technical, but Mr Hydara said that can be expected to change.
“I think we will come to the emotional part later in the trial, but for now it was just things that were done by the investigator, explanations and all that. But when we go deep into the trial, then we will understand how serious, how gruesome the crime committed by these junglers were. I am sure that we will know much more about things that we never knew. It will be a very interesting trial,” he said.
Many victims have denounced the apathy associated with the accountability process for justice for the crimes in The Gambia, however, Mr Hydara said he hopes to see The Gambia follow in the footsteps of their German counterparts.
“We hope things will be expedited back home like it is being done in Germany, but in The Gambia, we are waiting for what they called a white paper. That white paper will decide who to prosecute and who not to prosecute. That is confusing because in our opinion as victims, we have to have a say in any decision that concerns us, and not the government making all the decisions for the victims. In The Gambia, for example, the government can decide to pardon any without consultation with the victims’ families. And that is so wrong,” Mr Hydara said.
Patrick Kroker, a lawyer for Baba Hydara, said the victims of Jammeh have been waiting “for a very long time” for the day of reckoning, calling it a significant moment for “international justice”.
He said by prosecuting the crimes, Germany is showing once more that it is in the forefront of the fight to combat impunity in The Gambia and in other countries.
“They are hoping that this is also sending a very strong signal to other countries that these crimes must be prosecuted especially and also in The Gambia.”