By Alhagie Jobe
A group of opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) members arrested with murdered Solo Sandeng on April 14th have been convicted and each sentenced to serve three years imprisonment by a court in Mansakonko High Court, Lower River Region.
They include Nogoi Njie, Fatou Camara, Modou Ngum, Fatoumata Jawara, Lang Marong, Jerreh Fatty among others. They were charged with seven counts of unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, riotously interfering with vehicles, holding a procession without a permit, disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession and conspiracy.
They have since been denied bail on several occasion by the High Court in Banjul and kept under state custody. After a while of proceeding at the High Court in Banjul, the case was later transferred to the High Court in Mansakonko, Lower River Region.
The conviction of the April 14 protesters on today, Thursday, follows the conviction and sentencing on Wednesday of the party leader Ousainou Darboe and 18 others to three years imprisonment by the Special Criminal Court in Banjul over similar charges.
Arrest and detention
The April 14th protesters were arrested along with late Solo Sandeng who died in state custody after staging a peaceful demonstration at Westfield Junction demanding electoral reform. They were rounded up by police and one of them named Solo Sandeng was reportedly tortured to death in state custody while others suffered severe pains and still under critical conditions.
The death of Sandeng led to another protest on April 16th, led by the leader of the party Ousainou Darboe and party executive demanding the release of Solo Sandeng, dead or alive and others ‘illegally’ detained. They were equally rounded up by police and are all currently standing trials and remanded at the State Central prison of Mile II.
The Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia, Chapter 4, Section 25, Sub Section 1(D) states that “Every person shall gave the right to freedom of assemble and demonstrate peaceably and without arms.”
There have been international condemnations of the government’s brutality against the opposition.