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Gambia sentences former soldiers over coup plot

The soldiers were led by a former military aide to ex-president Yahya Jammeh, who ruled Gambia for 22 years before losing an election in late 2016 to Barrow and then refusing to step down.

FILE: Gambian president Adama Barrow. Picture: AFP

BANJUL - Eight former soldiers were sentenced on Monday for plotting to overthrow Gambia’s president Adama Barrow in 2017 with the help of his ousted predecessor, the country’s Court Martial said.

The soldiers were led by a former military aide to ex-president Yahya Jammeh, who ruled Gambia for 22 years before losing an election in late 2016 to Barrow and then refusing to step down.

The plotters, who had pleaded not guilty, were charged with nine counts including treason for conspiring to detain ministers and military officials and attack an international force that had been set up in Gambia to retain order after Jammeh’s rancorous departure.

Seven of the accused received a nine-year sentence and one got three years.

They were in contact with former president Jammeh over the messaging service WhatsApp, the Court Martial said, and discussed attacking troops in areas of the country still considered loyal to the former president.

Rights groups and the current government say Jammeh’s 22-year rule was marred by human rights abuses and fraud, allegations Jammeh denies.