A Gambian soldier who stands accused of killing a pioneering journalist in The Gambia has been arrested by authorities in the West African nation.
Malick Jatta, a former member of a special paramilitary hit squad sanctioned by ousted autocratic ruler Yahya Jammeh, is said to have fired the shot that hit and killed journalist Deyda Hydara in 2004.
Hydara is the proprietor of The Point Newspaper. His critical column, “Good Morning Mr. President” triggered Jammeh to order his murder.
Jammeh has denied that his government is responsible for his death, but a former military officer, Bai Lowe, who took part in the last attempt to oust the dictator said he was there as a driver when the order to kill Mr. Hydara was executed.
Who killed Deyda Hydara has stayed on the top right corner of The Point Newspaper since 2004. Gambian authorities concluded their investigation into his killing, blaming him for his own death.
Amadou Janneh was the Gambia’s information minister when Hydara was killed. He approached Jammeh at a ceremony at a square in the entrance of the capital, Banjul and informed him of Hydara’s murder.
Janneh recalled Jammeh saying: “I warned these journalists and they will not listen. They think they can write and say anything. It is their own fault.”
Under Jammeh, Gambian authorities stifled media freedom through a combination of criminal prosecutions, physical intimidation, censorship, and the promotion of government views in state-run or friendly private outlets.
Jammeh’s government has ignored regional court decisions ordering it to end impunity for past crimes against journalists and to pay a compensation to Hydara’s family.