Trial of Former Gambian Interior Minister Ousman Sonko Begins Today

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The trial of Ousman Sonko, a former Gambian Interior Minister begins in Switzerland today 8th January 2024, says ‘TRIAL International’.

The former Gambian Minister is charged with crimes against humanity relating to torture, kidnapping, sexual violence and unlawful killings between the years 2000 and 2016, when he served as Interior Minister under former President Yahya Jammeh. The opening of this Swiss trial for serious crimes committed by a former senior Government official in The Gambia represents a significant advance for justice not only for victims of grave human right abuses, but for Gambian and international groups that are part of the ‘Jammeh2Justice’ campaign.

‘TRIAL International’ first filed a criminal complaint against Sonko on the day he was arrested in Bern in Switzerland on January, 26 2017.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland filed an indictment against the former Gambian Interior Minister before the Federal Criminal Court of that country on April 17th 2023, and now the trial takes place in the city of Bellinzona, and is expected to last about three weeks.

The trial of former Gambian Interior Minister Ousman Sonko is possible because Swiss law recognises universal jurisdiction over certain serious international crimes, and allows for the prosecution of these crimes no matter where they are committed, and regardless of the nationality of the suspects or victims.

Gambian activists and survivors and their partners, together with international advocates, will attend the trial’s opening in Bellinzona.

For the information of the reader, the final report of Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on 24th December 2021, found that Jammeh and 69 of his associates committed serious crimes against humanity and called for their prosecution.