Modou Nyang, New York
Cherno Njie, the alleged financier of the Dec., 30, 2014 armed attack on the State House and last among the four charged by U.S. prosecutors for violating the U.S. Neutrality Act still maintaining his innocence, has finally decided to change his plea to guilty.
Njie will on Monday, April 4, enter a plea bargain offering to change his plea from not guilty to guilty, according to entries on the case’s electronic filing system. Ben Petok, Director of Communications office of the U.S. District Attorney in Minnesota confirmed the scheduled hearing. Njie’s attorney, Andrew S. Birrell, asked to be contacted for comments on Monday after the hearing.
Njie’s sudden change of plea has accelerated the case’s proceedings with the authorities now scheduling a sentencing date for May 11. All the other three accused persons have already pleaded guilty to the charges.
A wealthy real estate developer based in Austin, Texas, Njie and would be president had the plot succeeded, is accused of plotting to overthrow the government of the Gambia which violates U.S. law. His co accused persons are Alagie Barrow a U.S. Army veteran and Banka Manneh. The fourth accused person is Papa Faal, also a veteran of the U.S. military.
The Neutrality Act, an 18th century piece of legislation, bars private U.S. citizens from plotting to overthrow foreign governments with which the U.S. was not at war with. The law is rarely applied and this will be the third time a group of people have been charged for breaking it.
The charges carry 4 to 5 years of imprisonment or fines of up to $100,000.
Following the attack on the State House that resulted to the deaths among the attackers, Njie who was part of the group in the Gambia at the time, fled back to the U.S. where he were arrested and put on trial in early January 2015. Barrow too was also later arrested upon return to the U.S. whilst Manneh, who never joined the expedition, was the last to be indicted following months of investigation. Faal was the first to be arrested by U.S. Federal Agents following his escape out of the Gambia thorough Senegal and back to the U.S.