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Gambia will arrest ex-president Jammeh if he returns - minister

By AFP

Added 19th January 2020 10:20 PM

The former dictator ruled Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years, but fled in January 2017 after losing a presidential election to relative unknown Adama Barrow. He only relinquished power after popular protests and international pressure, moving to Equatorial Guinea.

Gambia will arrest ex-president Jammeh if he returns - minister

Demonstrators gather during a demonstration asking for former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh to come back to Gambia, in Sukuta, Gambia, on January 16, 2020. Thousands of supporters of Gambia's former dictator Yahya Jammeh demonstrated on January 16, 2020 on the outskirts of the capital Banjul, demanding his return from exile. The protest came days after the former autocrat was heard in a leaked audio recording insisting that the tiny West African state guarantee his right to return. AFP photos

The former dictator ruled Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years, but fled in January 2017 after losing a presidential election to relative unknown Adama Barrow. He only relinquished power after popular protests and international pressure, moving to Equatorial Guinea.

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Former dictator Yahya Jammeh would face immediate arrest if he returned home, Gambia's justice minister warned Sunday, days after his supporters called for his return from exile.
 
  man wearing a shirt with a picture of ahya ammeh A man wearing a shirt with a picture of Yahya Jammeh

 

After a year of hearings investigating abuses during his 22-year rule, "it can no longer be ruled out that crimes against humanity have been committed in The Gambia", said Abubacarr Tambadou.
 
"There will be accountability of the highest order for these crimes and I assure the victims that it is now only a question of when, and not if," he added.
 
Unless the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) ruled otherwise, "if former President Yahya Jammeh, ever comes back to this country, he will face immediate arrest and charges of the most serious kind".
 
Tambadou's speech, given to mark the opening of the judicial year, was quickly posted online by groups campaigning to have Jammeh brought to justice.
 
The former dictator ruled Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years, but fled in January 2017 after losing a presidential election to relative unknown Adama Barrow. He only relinquished power after popular protests and international pressure, moving to Equatorial Guinea.
 
On Thursday, thousands of the former president's supporters demonstrated in the capital Banjul, calling for his return to the country and to active politics.
 
They argue he has a right to return under a joint statement from the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations, published at the time of his exile. 
 
In an audio recording leaked last week, Jammeh could be heard saying he supported Thursday's protest.
 
On Monday, the TRRC will resume its work investigating the alleged abuses during Jammeh's years in power. Last year, it heard 190 witnesses give testimony alleging torture, murder, rape and witch hunts under his regime.
 
Those in power at the time identified by the Commission "will face certain prosecution in the most serious form", said Tambadou.
 

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