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Former Gambian Minister trial commences in Switzerland Today

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Image: Gambia News

In a significant stride towards justice for victims of heinous abuses in The Gambia, the trial of former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko is set to commence today in Bellinzona, Switzerland.

Sonko faces charges related to crimes against humanity, encompassing torture, kidnapping, sexual violence, and unlawful killings that occurred between 2000 and 2016 under the tenure of former President Yahya Jammeh.

The trial’s initiation in Switzerland marks a pivotal moment lauded by Gambian and international groups associated with the Jammeh2Justice campaign, highlighting a step forward in seeking accountability for grave atrocities.

Sonko’s arrest in Bern on January 26, 2017, followed a criminal complaint filed by TRIAL International. The Swiss Attorney General’s Office indicted Sonko on April 17, 2023, paving the way for the trial before the Federal Criminal Court.

The trial’s significance lies in Swiss law’s recognition of universal jurisdiction over severe international crimes, enabling the prosecution of such offences irrespective of where they were committed or the nationality of the suspects or victims.

Gambian activists, survivors, and global advocates are poised to attend the trial’s opening in Bellinzona, making themselves available for commentary.

The commencement follows the conclusive report released on December 24, 2021, by Gambia’s Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).

The report implicated Jammeh and 69 of his associates in crimes against humanity, underscoring the urgent need for their prosecution.

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