(JollofNews) – Gambia’s Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence given to seven men who were sentenced to death for conspiring to overthrow the APRC regime of Yahya Jammeh.
Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba, former Chief of Defense Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Brigadier General Omar Bun Badjie, Lt. Colonel Kawsu Camara alias Bombardier, former Deputy Inspector General of Police, Modou Gaye, former diplomat Gibril Ngorr Secka and Businessman Abdoulie Joof, were in July 2010 given the death sentence by the high court in Banjul for procuring arms, ammunitions, equipment and mercenaries from Guinea Bissau to stage a coup against the government of President Yahya Jammeh.
Their appeals at the Court of Appeal of the Gambia and the Supreme Court of the Gambia for the conviction to be squashed on the grounds that the trial judge misdirected himself on the evidence and testimonies of the prosecution witnesses and that the sentence imposed on them violates section 18 (2) of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia were rejected.
But in a final attempt to secure their freedom, the men who are currently held at the maximum security wing of Mile Two prisons, appealed for a review of the decision of the Supreme Court.
They said exceptional circumstances exist requiring the court to review its judgment of the October 2012. The men urged the court to set aside their convictions or in the alternative the death sentence be reduced to a lesser sentence. They also urged the court to consider the fact that no violence was made and nobody was injured or killed in the offence which they are convicted for.
In its ruling, a seven man panel headed by Pakistani born Chief Justice, Eli Nawaz Chowhan said the conviction of the men was safe, reasonable, and not perverse and it would be wrong to set it aside.
The justices added that that while there was no miscarriage of justice, the high court judge was wrong to sentence the men to death.
“The law has categorically stated that no one should be sentence to death by any court of law if no violence or death has occurred and I have come to the conclusion that I impose life sentence on each of the applicants and maintained their conviction accordingly,” one of the panel member, Justice Samega Janneh ruled.
The justices further stated that although the men have argued that exceptional circumstances exist which requires the court to review its judgment of October 2012, they have failed to convince them that there is an exceptional circumstances to trigger a review of the case.
The justices added that the international laws and treaties cited by the men in their defence and the National Assembly’s failure to abolish or rectify the death penalty were never an issue before the court and as such they cannot speculate on issues that are not before them.
They stated that some international laws and treaties have not abolished the death penalty and whether it should be used continued to be used in the Gambia or not is up to the public and the National Assembly to decide.