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Trial Of Former Gambian Minister To Be Held In Switzerland For Crimes Against Humanity

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According to a statement released on Tuesday, the attorney general of Switzerland has issued an indictment against the former interior minister of the Gambia for crimes against humanity committed during Yahya Jammeh’s despotic rule.

According to the Office of the Attorney General, Ousman Sonko is charged with supporting, taking part in, and failing to stop “systematic and generalized attacks” that were part of a repressive campaign by security forces against Jammeh’s opponents.

From 2006 to 2016, Sonko served as interior minister of Gambia. He then went to Sweden and, from there, to Switzerland, where he filed for asylum.

He was detained by Swiss authorities in January 2017 as a result of a complaint being filed by the Geneva-based legal organization, Trial International, under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which permits prosecution of the most serious crimes wherever they had been made. Since then, Sonko has been kept in Switzerland.

The Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland is scheduled to hear the case at an unspecified time. It will be only the second crime against humanity trial in the nation’s history.

The executive director of TRIAL International, Philip Grant, said, “We are very satisfied that this is going ahead.”

“We hope this will generate momentum and that the trial will put pressure on Equatorial Guinea to eventually extradite Jammeh,” he continued. After a political crisis in 2017, the former president of Gambia left for Switzerland.

The indictment was welcomed by Gambia’s human rights groups.

The indictment, according to Sheriff Mohammed Kijera of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations, created a precedent for the Gambian government to “take its responsibility to bring Yaya Jammeh and his henchmen to face justice.”

Human rights campaigner Madi Jobarteh stated, “Today we rejoice that finally justice has caught up with one of the key perpetrators against Gambians, whose victims continue to live in pain and misery.”

Gambia, a small nation in West Africa with 2.5 million people, is still recovering from more than two decades of authoritarianism and alleged abuses under former president Jammeh. Jammeh has refuted the wrongdoing accusations.

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