Five Gambia police charged with activists' murders
Gambian prosecutors have charged five police officers with murder over the deaths of three young protesters at an anti-pollution rally.
"Musa Fatty, Babucarr Cham and three other junior officers were taken to the Banjul Magistrate's Court and charged with murder," police spokesperson, Foday Conta, told AFP on Thursday evening.
"They have been remanded in custody by the court."
The violence occurred at a June 18 rally in Faraba Banta, 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of the capital, Banjul, where locals were protesting over the mining of sand which they say is badly polluting rice farms.
Police at the scene opened fire, killing two young men, while a third -- a 24-year-old student -- died of his injuries two days later.
Another six civilians and 16 police were also injured during the protest, according to an official toll.
Gambian President Adama Barrow ordered an investigation into the incident and the inspector general of police, who said he had not authorised the use of firearms against protesters, resigned.
The police would not be involved in the government's upcoming commission of inquiry, the spokesman said.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International cited witnesses as saying that demonstrators had been blocking mining-related road traffic when police reinforcements arrived and opened fire without warning.
Murder is a capital offence punishable by death in this small west African country.
But Barrow has placed a moratorium on the death penalty which was last used by his predecessor Yahya Jammeh in 2012 when nine convicts were executed by firing squad.