Int’l human right groups hail Swiss over Sonko’s indictment
International human right institutions around the world have commended the Swiss authorities for starting prosecution proceedings against Ousman Sonko, ex- Gambian Interior Minister under the former dictator, Yahya Jammeh, who ruled with an iron fist for 22-years.
Also, Right Groups have vigorously protested that without further delay, Jammeh should also be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Sonko who served various high level positions under Jammeh, including as Commander of the State Guard and Inspector General of Police was later promoted and appointed as Interior Minister from 2006 to 2016.
However, Sonko, later fled to Switzerland and applied for political asylum. He was later questioned, identified and arrested in January 2017.
In a swift response, TRIAL International, also based in Switzerland, responding to this correspondent noted that it “welcomes the indictment of Ousman Sonko by the Swiss prosecuting authorities… The Organization strongly believes that the trial to come will contribute to the transitional justice process in The Gambia”.
The NGO, well known for fighting impunity for international crimes and supporting victims in their quest for justice further noted: “The proceedings against Ousman Sonko in Switzerland demonstrates how relevant and powerful universal jurisdiction is to support the victim’s quest for justice…”
It added: “TRIAL International highlights the strength and resilience of the plaintiffs during these six years of investigation and will continue to accompany them up to and during the trial”.
Furthermore, Reed Brody, Human Rights Lawyer and Consultant in his reaction noted: “The long arm of the law is catching up to Yahya Jammeh and his accomplices around the world… Jammeh’s henchmen have been indicted in Germany, Switzerland and the United States”.
Brody, known as the Dictator Hunter also emphasized: “After the powerful public testimonies at the TRRC which deeply impacted Gambians, there is strong expectation, both at home and abroad, that the government will also deliver justice at home, and the Gambian government has indeed committed itself to the prosecution of Jammeh and his accomplices by setting up a Special Prosecutor’s office and a hybrid court with the support of ECOWAS”.
The author of “To catch a dictator: The Pursuit and Trial of Hissene Habre” is a passionate supporter of the Gambian victims who suffered the 22-years repression under Yahya Jammeh. He has pledged to continue his support and see to it that justice takes its rightful course.
The Point also gathered that the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) who “conducted several interviews and travelled many times to The Gambia to verify and validate” the accusations also revealed that the indictment filed in Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, is expected to cover crimes between 2000 and 2016.
Consequently, Sonko, known as Yahya Jammeh’s “right-hand man in the security sector” is defending serious allegations of “supporting, participating in and failing to prevent systematic and generalized attacks as part of the repression carried out by the Gambian security forces against all opponents of the regime”.
Swiss prosecutors also accused the defendant of having “participated, ordered, facilitated and/or failed to prevent killings, acts of torture, acts of rape and numerous unlawful detentions”.
Meanwhile, this correspondent also hears in confidence that the indictments are expected to be “unsealed in court in the presence of the defendant and his lawyer unless otherwise ordered by the judge”. Sonko is expected to plead “not guilty”.
Source: The Point