Gambia court sentences soldier to 12 years in prison for leading foiled coup

_FILE PHOTO: World leaders address the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City

BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambia's high court on Tuesday sentenced a soldier to 12 years in prison for leading a foiled coup last year against President Adama Barrow's administration.

Eight soldiers were charged with treason and conspiracy in January for their role in a Dec. 21, 2022 coup attempt in the West African nation of 2.5 million people almost entirely surrounded by Senegal.

Two civilians and a police officer were also charged with concealment of treason and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Seven, including the two civilians and the officer, were acquitted and released mid-trial.

The soldier accused of being the ringleader, Sanna Fadera, was found guilty of treason, the court ruled on Tuesday. Three other accused soldiers were acquitted of all charges.

Coup attempts are not uncommon in Gambia, which is still reeling from over two decades under former president Yahya Jammeh that were marked by authoritarianism and alleged abuses.

Jammeh himself seized power in 1994 and foiled several attempts to overthrow him before he lost an election in late 2016 to Barrow.

Fadera has denied all charges. He has 30 days to appeal the verdict.

(Reporting by Pap Saine; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Rod Nickel)