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Swiss Court Sentences Former Gambian Minister to 20 Years for Crimes Against Humanity

CC BY 2.0 / Cluster Munition Coalition from London, UK / Ousman Sonko during the CCM signing conference
Ousman Sonko during the CCM signing conference - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 16.05.2024
Ousman Sonko served as Gambia's Interior Minister from 2006 to 2016 in the administration of President Yahya Jammeh, who seized power in the country in a 1994 coup and resigned in 2017.
The Swiss Federal Criminal Court has found former Gambian Interior Minister Ousman Sonko guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 20 years in prison, the court said in a statement.

"By decision of the Criminal Court of May 15, 2024, Ousman Sonko was found guilty of repeated premeditated murder, repeated torture and repeated imprisonment, crimes punishable as crimes against humanity," the statement said.

Specifically, the court ruled that Sonko, as an accomplice of then-President Yahya Jammeh, who "ruled repressively," voluntarily killed a soldier suspected of attempting a coup in 2000, tortured and illegally detained soldiers, politicians and journalists in 2006, and killed a former member of parliament in 2011.
In addition to a sentence of 20 years, which is the maximum penalty for this type of crime, the court decided to expel Sonko from Switzerland for a period of 12 years and to pay compensation to the plaintiffs for the moral damage caused.
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The former interior minister fled to Switzerland in 2016 after Jammeh lost the election.
Sonko was arrested in 2017 after TRIAL International, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization, filed a complaint against him for human rights violations under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows suspects of serious crimes to be prosecuted outside the territory where the alleged crimes were committed.
In April 2023, Swiss prosecutors filed formal charges against Sonko, which he denied. In January, the Swiss Federal Criminal Court began hearings in his case.
The defense challenged the jurisdiction of the Swiss court to prosecute Sonko for facts that occurred before January 1, 2011, when the article on crimes against humanity appeared in the country's criminal code.