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PAP SAINE TELLS COURT SLAIN COLLEAGUE DEYDA DEFENDED THE VOICELESS

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The trial in Germany of former Jungler Bail Lowe accused of taking part in the murder of journalist Deyga Hydara continued yesterday with testimony from the co-founder of The Point Newspaper – Pap Saine.  Hydara was gunned down by a group that included Bai Lowe allegedly on the orders of former dictator Yahya Jammeh.

In his evidence, Mr. Saine told the court in Celle in Germany that Deyda was like an elder brother to him.

”He was a journalist who put all his love and compassion into his work, trying to be a voice for the voiceless,” Saine told the court.

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He said Deyda sacrificed his life to defend the voiceless and siding with the truth.

“After his murder, my family and friends asked me to leave The Point. However, a colleague of mine Demba Jawo said to me that ‘either you continue or not, you will die one day.’ But for us, who knew him, keeping the newspaper and his column alive at the same time meant honouring his legacy.”

“Deyda and I were brothers. We started our career with the Radio Syd in 1970; then from 1983 to 1989, we worked part time for Senegambia Sun – a weekly paper financed by the Senegalese Daily Le Soleil to promote the Senegambia Confederation till its dissolution. Deyda had participated immensely in the development of the press. He was an RSF correspondent for 20 years and AFP 30 years.That was the time there was a vacuum in the Gambian press to have tabloid newspapers and so  on 16 December 1991, The Point was established by Pap Saine, Deyda Hydara and late Baboucarr Gaye, who later resigned in April 1992.” Saine said.

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He added that Deyda used to receive threats especially with regard to his famous column: ‘Good Morning Mr. President’ in which he dealt with weekly issues and tried to find solutions.

”I first heard about Bai Lowe on 24 February 2013 when he was interviewed on Freedom Radio explaining how Deyda was killed and the ‘junglers’ involvement through the direction of Ousman Sonko, the ex-minister of Interior in the Jammeh regime. ‘He was the one giving directions to the junglers who killed Deyda’ Mr. Saine quoted Bai Lowe as saying. He talked about Lawyer Ousman Sillah’s attempted murder 2003.

“In my opinion, there was self-censorship and people were afraid to listen to Freedom Radio in The Gambia. No media outlet did carry the interview because of massive reprisals against journalists. During ex-president Jammeh’s regime, journalists were arrested, killed, got their houses or media houses burnt. Malik Jatta, an alleged jungler, who first shot Deyda told TRRC on 22 July 2019 that Bai Lowe was the driver of the junglers who killed Deyda on 16 December 2004,” told the court.

“Bai Lowe’s confession exposed Yahya Jammeh for his abuse of human rights and killing his opponents. With the Barrow Government, there is significant improvement on press freedom; independence of judiciary; democracy and rule of law. Since President Barrow assumed office in 2017, The Gambia made good progress with RSF World Ranking,” Mr Saine said.

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