A missionary couple from Britain have been sentenced to a year's hard labour in an African prison for calling the Gambian President a madman.
David Fulton and his wife, Fiona, were convicted of sedition after sending critical e-mails about Yahya Jammeh, who seized power in the predominantly Muslim country in a bloodless coup in 1994.
Fulton and his wife were also fined £6,250 each. Their lawyer said that they did not plan to appeal but were hoping for a pardon.
The couple, who were arrested on November 29, pleaded guilty and issued a public apology in the hope of a lenient sentence but were shocked when the judge handed down the maximum penalty for the shocking offences . The presiding magistrate, said:
They have shown no respect for the country, the Government and the President of the republic. I will send a clear message to the offenders.
Antouman Gaye, the couple's lawyer, said that their troubles began after they sent e-mails to friends and church contacts in Britain: Some of it was to do with religion, some was to do with the state of affairs in this country. Some e-mails said the
President is a madman. It was very risky.
Unfortunately for them, a Gambian person in England who has a connection with one of these churches got hold of these e-mails and sent them back to the police here.