By Mary Priddy, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent
BANJUL, THE GAMBIA (BosNewsLife) — A British missionary couple sentenced to one year jail terms with hard labor for “sedition” in The Gambia, has “apologized” to the government of President Yahya Jammeh and asked him for clemency through a letter read on national television.
“We are honored for the chance to apologize to President Jammeh and we do so humbly plea that he will compassionately grant us clemency,” according to the letter monitored by BosNewsLife Thursday, January 8.
David Fulton, 60, and his wife Fiona Fulton, 46, have been living in Gambia for 12 years. He was a chaplain while his wife worked with the terminally ill, according to Christian friends.
They were sentenced last month and also ordered to pay a fine of about $10,000, in addition to their hard labor prison term.
Officials defended the punishments. “I found the offenses of the accused party to be very shocking and they have shown no respect for the country, the government and the president of the republic,” said Judge Edrissa Mbai. “I will send a clear message to the offenders.” He added that the couple would receive an additional six months behind bars if the fine is not paid.
Mbai referred to alleged emails sent by David Fulton to supporters. One of the emails stated that The Gambia, “is sinking fast into a morass of Islam, many people are safe and standing for Christ but they are the minority.”
President Yahya has said that the emails sent by David Fulton were to encourage hatred in Gambia, charges the couple’s supporters have strongly denied.
Friends said David Fulton had begun to carry a gun after several incidents, including a robbery, vandalism, and confrontations. Three co-workers were reportedly poisoned and killed. Later a note was found on their bodies that read “One less Christian,” Christian said.
Fulton has reportedly been suffering of ill health and is not eating the food brought to him by prison guards in fear of being poisoned, friends said.
President Yahya has been known to run Gambia with an iron fist. Advocacy groups say he has been paranoid and had people arrested and killed because he thought they were plotting against him.
The Fulton’s are pleading for their passports to be returned so that they, along with their adopted infant daughter, may leave Gambia, BosNewsLife’s partner news agency, Worthy News, reported. (With BosNewsLife Africa Service).