Court keeps ex-Gambian minister Sonko behind bars

The Swiss courts have rejected previous appeals from Sonko to be released. © Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Former Gambian minister Ousman Sonko will remain in prison in Switzerland as investigators probe allegations of crimes against humanity and torture. Prosecutors told a court hearing that evidence against Sonko is increasing.

This content was published on August 14, 2020 - 12:47

The Swiss Federal Court has again rejected a plea from Sonko to release him from prison on the advice of prosecutors, it emerged on Friday. They suspect Sonko of committing numerous crimes as police chief and interior minister of the Republic of Gambia under the regime of Yahya Jammeh between 2006 and September 2016.

Having taken witness statements and examined Sonko’s phone, prosecutors believe he was responsible for a regime of torture conducted by the Gambian police and prison staff. The evidence also connects him to Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency and the so-called “Junglers”, a group that has been held responsible for numerous crimes.

When he was arrested in January 2017, Sonko was living in Switzerland having applied for asylum in the alpine state. He was held in detention following a criminal complaint from the non-governmental organization Trial International.

Last November, Switzerland’s highest court dismissed an earlier Sonko appeal for release and extended his detention into 2020.

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