By Abdoulie John

The Gambia’s Justice Minister Aboubacarr Tambadou said he is confident that the process initiated by the government will help the truth to emerge on the assassination of Deyda Hydara, a co-founder of The Point newspaper. The iconic figure of Gambian media was gunned down in December 16, 2004 by assaillants believed to be members of Yahya Jammeh’s hit squad.

Minister Tambadou made the remark in a preliminary statement he delivered during a news conference held at TANGO hall in Kanifing.

The gruesome murder of former AFP and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) correspondent still haunts the tiny West African nation. While the former regime blatantly refused to uncover the truth about the assassination, the new government has shown its commitment to democracy and rule of law. Hopes are high that the arrest warrant issued in June this year by a Gambian court against former top army officers allegedly linked to Deyda’s death would trigger their extradition to stand trial.

Minister Tambadou commended the resilience of the media fraternity for standing up against dictatorship as evidence by their successful resistance to pressure and intimidation.

He further stated that the information they have suggests that the killers of Deyda’s Hydara did not act on their own. But he was quick to urge Gambians to desist from engaging into speculation and allow the investigation to establish the facts.

Speaking earlier, Baba Hydara of The Point newspaper acknowledged the support of Gambia Press Union (GPU), Article 19, CPJ and IFJ, saying these organisations know the level of tenacity and passion his father dedicated in campaigning for a free press and freedom of speech.

He said his family “will not rest until his killers are held accountable.”

Similar sentiments were re-echoed by the co-founder of The Point Paper Saine who highlighted the atmosphere that prevailed in the aftermath of the killing, prompting his family to put pressure on him to quit the job. He thanked former Information Minister Demba Ali Jawo for standing by him throughout the ordeal.

Saine added that he was convinced by Jawo that abandoning the job was not the best option, but he should stay on board and continue fulfilling their duty to inform.

In an emotional speech, GPU President Sheriff Bojang Jnr. said Deyda Hydara visualizes today’s Gambia.

“He knew the dictatorship that we have will inevitably come to an end. But it wouldn’t happen unless someone sacrifice his life,” he remarked. “Deyda contributed immensely to the freedom we claim to be enjoying today. He fought for everybody.”

The Gambia is recovering from 22 years of dictatorship by the Jammeh regime, which was marked by gross human rights violations. As the new government is pushing ahead with a reconciliation agenda, a rising demand for justice reminds Gambians that the culture of impunity has no place in New Gambia…

Ends

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