Deyda Hydara was killed by unknown gunmen on his way home

(JollofNews) – The Committee to Protect Journalists in New York on Friday welcomed a court decision ordering the arrest of former senior military commanders for their alleged role in the murder of Journalist Deyda Hydara of The Point Newspaper.

Former army commander Colonel Kawsu Camara, alias Bombardier, and Major Sanna Manjang, who is said to be a member of the Jungulars, the assassin team of former president Yahya Jammeh are said to have conspired to kill Deyda Hydara on 16th December 2004.

“These warrants are a significant step toward voiding the culture of impunity that was permitted to flourish under former President Yahya Jammeh in Gambia for decades,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal.

“Authorities must do everything in their power to ensure those who carried out Deyda Hydara’s killing, as well as the mastermind, are brought to justice.”

Hydara was the managing editor and co-owner of the independent newspaper The Point, and a correspondent for Agence France-Presse and Reporters without Borders.

Mr Hydara was an advocate of press freedom and a fierce critic of the government of then President Yahya Jammeh, who was openly hostile to Gambian journalists and the media.

On 14 December 2004, the Gambia passed two new media laws. One, the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill 2004, allowed prison terms for defamation and sedition; the other, the Newspaper (Amendment) Bill 2004, required newspaper owners to purchase expensive operating licenses, registering their homes as security.

Mr Hydara announced his intent to challenge these laws, but on 16 December, was assassinated by an unknown gunman while driving home from work in Banjul. Two of his colleagues were also injured.

Investigations by the Gambian police and National Intelligence Agency failed identify Mr Hydara’s killers and instead tried to blame the father of five for causing his own death.