Sonko asks for D71M compensation

Sonko asks for D71M compensation

The embattled ex-Gambian Minister for Interior standing trial in Switzerland for crimes against humanity and other human rights violations against various Gambian people, is asking for a total compensation of 929, 855 Swiss Francs (CHF), equivalent to GMD71.458 million.

Sonko’s lawyer on Wednesday morning, 6th of March 2024, began his plea bargains with asking for immediate acquittal of his client and outlining the number of days he (Sonko) spent in Swiss authorities’ custody from January 2017 to date at various detention and prison facilities across Switzerland, for crimes he is innocent of.

Mr Philippe Currat, the defence lawyer, having heard plea bargains from the prosecution and lawyers for the various plaintiffs since Monday, was today given a chance to present his plea for Mr Ousman Sonko. Since January 2017, Mr Sonko has spent 2,460 days in custody.

His lawyer yesterday submitted a plea for his acquittal and asked that this should be pronounced on all charges brought against Sonko, and that all of the civil claims against his client by the various private plaintiffs be rejected in their entirety.

“In view of the fact that the full acquittal of Mr Ousman Sonko on all charges is being demanded today, he is [also] entitled to compensation for his defence costs for the period prior to my appointment as public defender in the amount of CHF 113,355.25 (D8.688 million),” said Mr Currat, adding that the court will be notified of his legal costs and fees as a public defender within the 10-day period granted in its decision of 23 January 2024 after the conclusion of the party hearings.

The defense lawyer said the trial of Mr Sonko is just a means to an end. The goal of Trial International, the Swiss NGO that raised the indictment of Mr Sonko, is to use Sonko’s trial to get Yahya Jammeh to face accountability for the crimes committed against the population of The Gambia during 22 years of brutal dictatorship.

“This is the goal of TRIAL INTERNATIONAL, which initiated these proceedings. What the whistle-blower is really asking for is a guilty verdict in order to put pressure on a third country to achieve their real goal: a trial against Yahya Jammeh. This is the title of the international campaign “JAMMEH2JUSTICE”. Ousman Sonko is only a means to an end. Interestingly, of all the ministers who served during Yahya Jammeh’s presidency, none was ever prosecuted anywhere, neither in The Gambia nor anywhere else, because everyone knows that the responsibility does not lie there, but with the Junglers and the NIA, who were only answerable to the president and no one else,” he told the court.

Reacting to the claims against Trial International, Meystre Benoit, legal advisor, International Investigations and Litigation, said, “TRIAL International strongly rejects the allegations formulated by the defence. This trial is not about the – necessary – work of the civil society but aims at the recognition, by an independent court of law, of mass atrocities committed in The Gambia.”

The goal of “Jammeh2Justice” campaign, according to coordinator, Ms Sirra Ndow, is not only to ensure Yahya Jammeh is brought to justice but also his accomplices.

“Ousman Sonko is alleged to be his accomplice, in addition to the other separate crimes he committed. He, too, has [to be] brought to justice. If his defense team believes Sonko has not done anything wrong, I am sure they will present the evidence that will acquit him and we will be happy with that,” said Ms Ndow.

She pointed out that jailing anyone innocent of crimes alleged is the last thing the campaigners want.

Source: The Point

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