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Swiss court convicts Gambian ex-minister for crimes against humanity

Nine Gambian plaintiffs and their relatives travelled to Switzerland for the trial against the Gambia's former interior minister Ousman Sonko, which was held at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, canton Ticino, in January 2024.
Nine Gambian plaintiffs and their relatives travelled to Switzerland for the trial against the Gambia's former interior minister Ousman Sonko, which was held at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, canton Ticino, in January 2024. Keystone/© Ti-Press

Switzerland’s top criminal court has convicted a former interior minister of the Gambia for crimes against humanity during repression by the west African country’s security forces against opponents of its longtime dictator, a legal advocacy group said Wednesday.

Ousman Sonko, the Gambia’s interior minister from 2006 to 2016 under then-President Yahya Jammeh, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, Trial International said on the platform X.

+ Sonko trial: prosecutor demands life imprisonment for Gambian ex-minister

The trial that began in January was seen by advocacy groups as an opportunity to reach a conviction under “universal jurisdiction,” which allows the prosecution of serious crimes committed abroad.

The verdict was read out in Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, canton Ticino, on Wednesday.

+ Why Gambian ex-minister is on trial in Switzerland for crimes against humanity

Sonko applied for asylum in Switzerland in November 2016 and was arrested two months later.

The Swiss attorney general’s office said the indictment against Sonko, filed a year ago, covered alleged crimes during 16 years under Jammeh, whose rule was marked by arbitrary detention, sexual abuse and extrajudicial killings.

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI swissinfo.ch we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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