Six Gambian police officers Thursday pleaded not guilty to the shooting and killings of three environmental protesters in Faraba Banta village.
Baboucarr Cham, Bala Musa Fatty, Mamadou Jallow, Alieu Camara, Musa Badgie and Nuha Colley appeared at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court, where they were charged with three counts of murder.
State prosecutors said the officers had acted without lawful authority when they fired live ammunition at a group of villagers protesting against the mining of sand in their village, which resulted in killing of Bakary Kujabi, alias Seffo, Ebrima Bah and Amadou Jallow known locally as Amadou Nyang.
The officers denied any wrong doing and were remanded at the Mile Two Central Prisons outside Banjul while the case is transferred to the high court.
The killing of the protesters has angered many Gambians and right groups who have called on the government of Mr Barrow to investigate the incident and bring those responsible to book.
Hours after the killings, the Inspector General of Police at the time, Landing Kinteh, denied giving orders for the officers to use live ammunition against the villagers.
President Adama Barrow had condemned the killings and has promised justice to the victim’s families. He has also instituted a commission of inquiry headed by respected human rights lawyer, Emmanuel Joof to independently look into the circumstances that led to the death of three men.
The commission will also investigate the circumstances leading to the standoff between the villagers and the Police Intervention Unit, circumstances that led to the injuries and fatalities, and identify the those responsible for the deaths, including those who may have ordered the firings and those who fired the shots.
It will then recommend measures to prevent a recurrence of the circumstances that led to the stand-off and also recommend measures to prevent an occurrence of the incident in other parts of the country.