Swiss prosecutor calls for life in prison for Sonko

Swiss prosecutor calls for life in prison for Sonko

In a 156-page document delivered within a six-hour marathon presentation in German language on Monday, March 4th 2024 in Bellinzona, the Federal Prosecutor under the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland is calling for a life imprisonment for former Gambian Minister of Interior, Mr Ousman Sonko.

Mr Sonko, who is standing trial before the Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland for crimes committed while serving under Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, is accused of murder of Almamo Manneh, and his responsibility in the murders of Baba Jobe, Solo Sandeng while he served in various public offices between 2000 and 2006 at the State Guards Battalion; as Inspector General of Police, and as Minister of Interior between 2006 and 2016, respectively.

The trial which resumed this week, after over five weeks’ break, is hearing the plea bargains from the prosecutor, the defence lawyer of Sonko and lawyers of plaintiffs who are also suing Sonko for various forms of human rights violations they suffered under state custody during  the times that Sonko served in these offices. Crimes such as multiple rapes, torture and other degrading treatments are considered crimes against humanity under international law, and under international jurisdiction, persons can be prosecuted for these crimes in countries they find themselves in even when the crimes have been committed in jurisdictions elsewhere.

“In the present case, the detention courts have always emphasized in the course of the detention, reviews that this is an exceptional case with international facts in a very complex form,” she said, noting that the duration of the proceedings therefore does not constitute grounds for a reduction of the sentence in the present.

This means that notwithstanding the seven-year remand in custody of Mr Sonko, the prosecutor seeks that court makes a fresh start of sentencing for him.

“However, not a single court instance that was called upon by the accused on the occasion of more than 50 complaints, found a violation of the requirement to expedite proceedings,” she argued.

She said it follows from the above that a life sentence for the offences committed by the defendant should be life imprisonment, and is regarded as an overall sentence in commensuration with the degree of culpability.

“This is also justified in view of international case law. In December last year, the Jungler Bai LOWE, who was involved as a driver in various crimes against humanity cases, was sentenced to life imprisonment,” the prosecutor said.

“The involvement of the accused (Ousman Sonko) and his culpability are to be weighted significantly higher in this case. Taking into account all sentencing criteria, the Office of the Attorney General therefore requests that the accused be sentenced to life imprisonment,” she concluded.

Source: The Point

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