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Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 05 Jan 2024 :  13:41:19  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
https://www.hrw.org/news/2024/01/05/switzerland/gambia-jammeh-era-crimes-trial
Switzerland/Gambia: Jammeh-Era Crimes on Trial
Gambian Ex-Minister Sonko Faces Crimes Against Humanity Charges



(Geneva) – The opening of a Swiss trial on January 8, 2024, for serious crimes committed in The Gambia represents a significant advance for justice for the victims of grave abuses, Gambian and international groups that are part of the Jammeh2Justice campaign said today.

The former Gambian Interior Minister Ousman Sonko is charged with crimes against humanity relating to torture, kidnapping, sexual violence, and unlawful killings between 2000 and 2016 under then-President Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh’s 22-year rule was marked by systematic and widespread human rights violations, such as arbitrary arrests, torture including sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances of actual and perceived opponents to his rule.

“The trial of Ousman Sonko is another major step in the search for justice for victims of brutal crimes and their families committed under Jammeh’s rule,” said Sirra Ndow, coordinator of the Jammeh2Justice campaign. “The Sonko case should reinforce efforts back in The Gambia to try crimes under Jammeh’s rule so that perpetrators are held to account for the atrocities committed.”

Sonko was arrested in Bern, Switzerland on January 26, 2017, the day after TRIAL International filed a criminal complaint against him. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland filed an indictment against Sonko before the Federal Criminal Court on April 17, 2023. The trial, taking place in the city of Bellinzona, is expected to last about three weeks.

The trial is possible because Swiss law recognizes universal jurisdiction over certain serious international crimes, allowing for the prosecution of these crimes no matter where they were committed and regardless of the nationality of the suspects or victims. Swiss nongovernmental organizations, former federal prosecutors, members of parliament, and others have previously criticized judicial officials in Switzerland for lagging behind other European countries on universal jurisdiction cases despite having solid legislation to address serious crimes.

“With Sonko’s trial, Switzerland appears at last to be gaining momentum on prosecuting atrocity crimes committed abroad,” said Philip Grant, executive director at TRIAL International, which supports plaintiffs in the case. “Sonko is the highest-level former official to be tried under the principle of universal jurisdiction in Europe.”

Sonko is the second person to be tried in Switzerland before a non-military court for serious crimes committed abroad, the second person to be tried in Europe for crimes committed in The Gambia, and the highest ranked official to be prosecuted in Europe on the basis of universal jurisdiction. Gambian activists and survivors, and international advocates will attend the trial’s opening in Bellinzona and are available for comment. The first case addressing crimes committed in The Gambia was in Germany against Bai Lowe, a former member of the paramilitary unit known as the “Junglers,” which Jammeh created. Lowe was convicted and sentenced to life in prison by a German court on November 30, 2023, for two murders and an attempted murder, constituting crimes against humanity.

A major challenge will be to ensure that Gambians, whether in the audience or outside the courtroom, can access, follow, and understand the proceedings, which will be conducted in German. Survivors, victims’ groups, and civil society groups have tried to ensure that information on developments is disseminated within The Gambia to increase their impact.

“Developments in the proceedings of such a significant case should be made accessible to Gambians, victims and non-victims alike, in the English language, which they understand, thereby boosting their interest in the trial,” said Fatoumata Sandeng, a plaintiff in the Sonko case who heads the Solo Sandeng Foundation. “Greater action on accountability by the government back home in Gambia is also needed.”

Since Jammeh’s fall, The Gambia has moved forward with only two prosecutions for Jammeh-era crimes. In December 24, 2021, the final report of Gambia’s Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) found that Jammeh and 69 of his associates committed crimes against humanity, and called for their prosecution. On May 25, 2022, the Gambian government accepted the TRRC’s recommendation for accountability, but without an action plan.

On May 12, 2023, the government presented a long-awaited detailed implementation plan calling for the creation of a Special Prosecutor’s Office to complete the investigations initiated by the TRRC and to prepare case-ready dossiers. A hybrid tribunal of Gambia and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) would be created to carry out prosecutions of the most serious offenses. The Gambia and ECOWAS have created a joint technical committee to develop the hybrid court.

“The Gambian government and ECOWAS should move without delay to create the hybrid court,” said Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “Victims and the Gambian public have waited a very long time to have the chance to see justice done.”

Groups involved with the campaign include: Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA), African Network Against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances (ANEKED), Amnesty International–Ghana, Center for Justice and Accountability, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-GHANA), Human Rights Advocacy Center, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists, Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), POS Foundation, Right 2 Know–Gambia, Solo Sandeng Foundation, The Toufah Foundation, TRIAL International, and Women's Association for Victims’ Empowerment (WAVE).

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone

Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 08 Jan 2024 :  12:15:38  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sonko’s trial is “such huge justice— Reed Brody

Several journalists, victims of human rights abuse under ex-president Yahya Jammeh and human rights lawyers and activists have gathered in Bellinzona, Switzerland, as Gambia’s former interior minister Ousman Sonko faces a 3-member panel of judges over charges of crimes against humanity. Reed Brody, a member of the International Commission of Jurists, said this is a huge step towards bringing Jammeh to justice.

“... We are still years away from bringing Yahya Jammeh to justice. But this is an important step. They are important for the victims… I was in Gambia when Binta Jamba testified before the TRRC. I was going around and everybody was listening to their transistor radios to her testimonies. And now, she is here testifying before the man who raped her. That is such huge justice,” said Reed outside of the courtroom in Bellinzona.

“Fatoumata Sandeng is going to testify before the man who tortured her father. These are huge steps for justice and for victims.”

Malagen’s coverage of this trial is supported by the New Narratives as part of their West Africa Justice Reporting Project.

Source: Malagen, January 8th 3024
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Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 08 Jan 2024 :  12:17:00  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You remember the testimony, before the Truth Commission, of the 47-year old Fatoumatta Camara, a native of Basse who took to the streets with Ebrima Solo Sandeng on April 14, 2016? Well, today, she sat barely 3 meters behind former interior minister Ousman Sonko being tried in Switzerland on charges of crimes against humanity.

Camara and colleagues were severely tortured in state custody in 2016, leading to the death of Ebrima Solo Sandeng. Since 2017, at least 5 of the tortured victims have died.

“It took a long time (they were beating me)... They beat me until I fainted and when I woke up I found myself dumped in the grass in an open courtyard. They came and poured water on me. My wrapper was completely wet,” Camara told the Truth Commission in October 2019.

In the aftermath of their arrest, it took about 3 court sessions, Camara and 2 others— Nogoi Njie and Fatoumatta Jawara— could not appear. Camara, Nogoi and others alleged that they were taken to the headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency where they were tortured, killing Sandeng, on the orders of Sonko.

Sonko is battling allegations of torture, murder, false imprisonment, rape, deprivation brought against him by 9 Gambian plaintiffs.


Source: Malagen, January 8th. 2024
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Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 09 Jan 2024 :  14:26:04  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sonko is back in court as he turns 55 today! The judges are reading a ruling on the preliminary questions raised in the trial. At the opening yesterday, Sonko’s lawyer Philippe Currat, argued that Switzerland does not have jurisdiction to try Sonko on events before January 2011, as they occurred before the offence of “crimes against humanity” came into force in Switzerland.

According to Currat, crimes against humanity are the only offence for which “universal jurisdiction” – the legal principle that holds international crimes should be prosecuted regardless of where the crimes were committed or the nationality of the perpetrators and the victims – would apply.

If the court agrees, half of the charges could be dropped. “Since the offence of crimes against humanity only came into force in Switzerland on 1st January 2011, and this offence is the only charge contained in the indictment for which the Swiss authorities have universal jurisdiction to potentially bring Ousman SONKO to justice, it is, therefore not possible to apply the offence to acts committed before 1 January 2011,” argued Currat.

Currat argued that the crime of torture cannot be applied in Sonko’s case, as it “is a crime in the Swiss law only as a crime against humanity,” which could be held unenforceable. Currat also claimed that a number of witnesses were heard in a process that violated the law.

The judges are currently reading a ruling on Currat's submission. Will Sonko get a positive nod as a birthday gift?

Source: Malagen, January 9th. 2024
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Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2024 :  09:52:38  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ousman Sonko, former interior minister, began his Tuesday testimony in Switzerland yesterday by explaining the difficult circumstances under which he was detained in Switzerland.

The former interior minister was arrested in Switzerland in January 2017. During his first experience of detention from 2017 to September 2018, he said he was locked in a cell for 23 hours a day with limited time to eat and bathe.

“The cell, the window is small and high up. You cannot see outside. I have no access to natural sunlight. I have to use the light 24/7,” Sonko told the court. These restrictions, he said, resulted in an eye injury.

After 2018, Sonko was moved to another detention centre. The conditions there, he said, improved slightly. His seven years in detention, he told the court, have caused his health to deteriorate. Because of his detention experience, Sonko said Switzerland was in no position to judge human rights.

Source: Malagen, January 10th. 2024

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2024 :  11:26:31  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Victim Madi Ceesay welcomes Sonko’s Swiss trial
The Standard: JANUARY 10, 2024

By Tabora Bojang


https://standard.gm/victim-madi-ceesay-welcomes-sonkos-swiss-trial/

Serrekunda West lawmaker, Madi Ceesay, who is a victim of torture during the former regime, has welcomed the landmark trial against former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko in Switzerland as ‘relief’ after a long wait for justice over mass atrocities committed under the Jammeh dictatorship.

Sonko, a former State Guards Commander, Inspector General of Police and Minister of Interior until 2016, appeared before a court in Switzerland Monday, accused of crimes against humanity over a litany of violations including killings, acts of sexual violence, torture and depriviation of liberties. He is the highest-ranking official to answer for atrocities committed during Jammeh’s 22 years rule.

“I feel a big relief because I have been with this pain and anger for quite a long time. And now that one of the perpetrators is brought to book, I have no doubt that justice will prevail and that comforts me a lot,” Ceesay, who travelled to Switzerland to testify against Sonko, told The Standard yesterday. Under Sonko’s reign, Ceesay was arrested and tortured by state agents when he was a media practitioner in the 2000s.

Among the witnesses to testify against Sonko include a rape survivor whose husband was killed in a plot he was allegedly involved.

Ceesay said the trial reinforces the hopes of many other victims in the Gambia that the “long arms of justice” will reach all perpetrators involved in human rights violations.

“This is a signal to perpetrators and would-be perpetrators that there is no place to hide after committing such crimes against humanity. Justice has its long arms. It has its eagle eyes.”

He argued that the Sonko trial is a “shame for the Barrow government” that it is failing in its responsibilities to serve justice to victims of the former regime.

“This is a process they are supposed to lead and now a state like Switzerland was able to trap Sonko and indict him. It is a shame back home. They need to take up their responsibilities and ensure that the remaining perpetrators in the Gambia are brought to justice as soon as possible for the betterment of the country and for the government,” Ceesay stated.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2024 :  11:29:05  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Multiple rape survivor among 3 to testify against Ex-Minister Sonko
The Point: Jan 8, 2024
By: Sanna Camara

https://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/headlines/multiple-rape-survivor-among-3-to-testify-against-ex-minister-sonko


A Gambian survivor of multiple rapes is among three witnesses who will this week take a stable against former Interior Minister, Ousman Sonko in Switzerland. She is the widow of a former State Guards under Jammeh who was killed after being accused of plotting a coup against Yahya Jammeh.

Her husband was one of the top commanders of the State Guards under Jammeh who was shot and killed after he was alleged to be plotting the overthrow of Yahya Jammeh.
According to court sources in Switzerland, she (would-be witness) was evicted from her house and stayed with her mum’s. From there Sonko visited her to rape her. Often got her picked up to be raped until 2003. She fled to the US and got asylum, leaving her kids behind in The Gambia. However, Ousman Sonko is denying these allegations.

The former Gambian Interior Minister Ousman Sonko is facing charges of sexual violence, including rape as crimes against humanity, and others relating to torture, kidnapping, and unlawful killings. He served between 2000 and 2016 under then-President Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule that was marked by “systematic and widespread” human rights violations against actual and perceived opponents to his rule in The Gambia.

Sonko was arrested in Bern, Switzerland on January 26, 2017, the day after TRIAL International, a Swiss human rights NGO, filed a criminal complaint against him. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland filed an indictment against Sonko before the Federal Criminal Court on April 17, 2023. The trial, taking place in the city of Bellinzona, is expected to last about three weeks, and follows three years of investigation that saw Sonko’s detention in custody in Switzerland.

“The trial of Ousman Sonko is another major step in the search for justice for victims of brutal crimes and their families committed under Jammeh’s rule,” said Sirra Ndow, coordinator of the Jammeh2Justice campaign: “The Sonko case should reinforce efforts back in The Gambia to try crimes under Jammeh’s rule so that perpetrators are held to account for the atrocities committed.”

Since Jammeh’s fall, The Gambia has moved forward with only two prosecutions for Jammeh-era crimes. In December 24, 2021, the final report of Gambia’s Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) found that Jammeh and 69 of his associates committed crimes against humanity, and called for their prosecution. On May 25, 2022, the Gambian government accepted the TRRC’s recommendation for accountability, but without an action plan.


A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 10 Jan 2024 :  12:12:39  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sonko’s version of UN experts’ denial to access Mile 2 Security Wing in 2014

In Ousman Sonko’s 5-page preliminary testimony on Tuesday, the former interior minister, provided context on events that occurred during his time as police chief, interior minister and military leader. Sonko raised the 2014 visit of UN experts to assess prison conditions in The Gambia. “I invited the UN Special Rapporteurs to visit The Gambia so that their recommendations would enable us to activate political leverage to improve the situation as much as possible,” Sonko claimed.

But in 2014, the two UN special rapporteurs on torture and extra-judicial executions— Christof Heyns and Juan Méndez— were offered a guided tour upon their arrival in Gambia on a prison visit under the mandate of the Human Rights Council. The experts were reportedly informed that “under no circumstances would they be allowed to visit the Security Wing, where [among others] the death row prisoners are held.”

“Due to denial of access to the Security Wing of Mile 2 prison to visit those sentenced to lengthy sentences, including the death penalty, an inference must be drawn that there is something important to hide. This incident forced us to suspend this integral part of the visit,” said Heyns at the time.

Sonko admitted that the prisons in Gambia “are notoriously substandard” but he said such conditions are not as a “result of Gambian state policy”. He attributed it to a historical legacy of colonialism.

“To tell the truth, I was particularly disappointed that the two Special Rapporteurs preferred to provoke a clash with the Presidency as soon as they arrived, rather than carry out their mission in such a way as to build a relationship that would be useful for the country’s development,” Sonko said.




Binta Jamba just took the stand. It is the third day of his trial. The former interior minister Ousman Sonko returned to court in the Swiss city of Bellinzona to face charges of crimes against humanity. Sonko first took the seat before the judges on a minor procedural matter.

He told the judges that he contested all allegations made by Binta Jamba. Jamba, a former immigration officer and widow of Almamo Manneh— a member of state guards who was killed in 2000— alleged to have been raped by Sonko multiple times.

“Your testimony is he rape you?” asked the Truth Commission.
“Yes,” replied Jamba.
“ He forcefully raped me.”
“And what happened after that?” asked the Commission.
“Well after that day Sonko decided to make it a routine. Every time he will come after.”

Source: Malagen, January 10th. 2024


A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2024 :  07:46:44  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
First witness testifies against Gambia’s former interior minister Ousman Sonko in crimes against humanity trial in Switzerland

Bellinzona, Switzerland–The first witness in the crimes against humanity trial of 55-year-old Ousman Sonko—Gambia’s former interior minister—told a Swiss Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona that Sonko treated her like a sex slave.

Binta Jamba is the widow of Almamo Manneh—a former soldier in Gambia’s State Guards—an elite military unit guarding the Gambian presidency. In 2000, Manneh was accused of a coup and was killed under mysterious circumstances.

Sonko is currently on trial in Switzerland for crimes against humanity for his alleged role in a series of crimes perpetrated against Gambians under the 22-year rule of former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh ruled Gambia with an iron fist and was accused of numerous human rights violations, including murder and severe torture. Sonko first served in the military, rising through the ranks to command the State Guards in 2003.

Jamba, who first testified before Gambia’s Truth Commission in October 2019, said she was raped multiple times by the former interior minister at various locations in The Gambia, events she said left lasting physical and emotional scars.

Between January to December 2000, Jamba told the court Wednesday, “I was just like a sex slave to him.” Jamba said she was impregnated by Sonko twice between 2000 to 2002 and was forced to abort both pregnancies, which, she said, were arranged by Sonko. (Abortion is illegal in the Gambia.)

“I was very sick after the abortions… I was constantly bleeding,” said Jamba, as she broke down in tears. Sonko’s lawyer, Philippe Currat, had no question for Jamba on the substance of her testimony. Currat later explained that Jamba’s statement was contradictory, and his questions would have added little value.

Manneh’s murder

From 1994 until early 2000, Manneh, Jamba’s husband, was close to Jammeh and implicated in the torture of several high-profile political detainees, including former ministers of Gambia’s first president, Dawda Kairaba Jawara, in 1995, an investigation by Gambia’s Truth Commission found.

Some detainees were “beaten and kicked by the soldiers, who subjected many of them to mock executions. They were threatened frequently by Almamo Manneh and [his colleague] Bubacarr Bah, who would tell them that they were waiting for the order of the (Capt. Yahya Jammeh) to kill them and cut them into pieces and throw them to the dogs. This caused the detainees great fear and anguish as they genuinely believed that they would be killed,” the Commission found.

It is unclear why Manneh fell out with Jammeh. However, Jamba, who described her husband's relationship with Jammeh as a “good” one, said Manneh’s murder was orchestrated by Sonko.

“Yahya Jammeh, Ousman Sonko, and Ismaila Jammeh [Sonko’s orderly] planned and organized the killing of Almamo Manneh, which was carried out by the group sent out to lure him to Bund Road,” where Manneh was killed, said the Commission. But at the hearing on Wednesday, Sonko declined to speak on the specifics of Manneh’s killing.

“I cannot comment as far as the case of Almamo Manneh is concerned,” said Sonko. “In my statement, I did not refer to anything [that reveals] operational [details]…I am still bound by the official secrecy act.”

Horrific torture of Lt. Col. Bunja Darboe

The second witness to take the stand on Wednesday was Lt. Col. Bunja Darboe, a serving Gambian soldier, arrested on allegation of his involvement in a 2006 coup. Darboe was allegedly tortured and forced to write a statement implicating himself, a document used as prima facie evidence against him at the court-martial in Banjul.

“All they said was that a speech was found on me. But that was not true. They forced me to write it,” said Lt. Col. Darboe. “Sonko is here, and I challenge him to tell the truth.”

Sonko was then chief of Gambia’s police who allegedly sat on a panel of security officer that oversaw the torture and interrogation of detainees including Darboe. The investigation by the Truth Commission found that such panels were accompanied by brutal torture of Junglers— members of a hit squad who operated under Jammeh’s orders.

Darboe said his torturers placed a plastic bag over his head, and he was subjected to horrific torture. He then broke down in tears.

“My hand was hurting me. Everywhere was paining me. When they were beating me, my hand was fractured and also dislocated. One of them cocked a pistol and asked me to say my last prayers. I could not say anything,” said Darboe.

“At that moment, I just wanted to die. I did not want to live. I was fed up with the humiliation. The pain was so extreme that I could not bear it. I was helpless.”

*Editor’s note: Bunja Darboe is not related to the author.

This story was a collaboration with New Narratives as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project.

Source: Malagen, January 10th. 2024

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2024 :  20:48:47  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Second rape victim testifies in case against Gambia’s former interior minister in Switzerland

Bellinzona, Switzerland—On Thursday, *Fatou Ceesay, a rape victim and plaintiff, took the stand in the crimes against humanity trial against Gambia’s former interior minister Ousman Sonko in the Swiss city of Bellinzona.

Sonko was the police chief under ex-president Yahya Jammeh from 2005 to 2006. In the latter part of 2006, he was appointed minister of interior, a position he held from November 2006 to February 2012 and from May 2012 to September 2016.

The Swiss Attorney General’s office, along with 10 plaintiffs from Gambia, is accusing Sonko of torture, murder, false imprisonment, rape, and deprivation of liberty, allegedly perpetrated against Gambians during the 22-year rule of Gambia’s former dictator Jammeh.

*Ceesay, who requested not to use her real name, was accused of being involved in a foiled coup led by the army chief of defense staff Col. Ndure Cham. In the aftermath of the coup, several people—military officers and civilians—were rounded up, including Ceesay, who was a civilian.

A panel was established and composed of various heads of security institutions. Sonko allegedly sat on it, Ceesay testified. Several investigations, including one by the country’s Truth Commission, established that such panels are confession exercises accompanied by the beating of Junglers, a paramilitary hit squad operating on the orders of Jammeh.

“They took me to a room. They removed my glasses, put a plastic bag over my head, and started beating me from all directions. That went on for a long time. They do this until you can’t breathe,” said Ceesay. After the beating, she was allegedly raped by one of the Junglers.

“One of them came in and turned off the light,” she said. “The whole room was dark. I thought I was going to be beaten again. I saw a Jungler with a mask. He jumped on me, opened my legs and started molesting me. He raped me,” said Ceesay.

Hearing continues tomorrow with testimony from Demba Dem.

Source: Malagen, January 11th 2024
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Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2024 :  20:49:08  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Second rape victim testifies in case against Gambia’s former interior minister in Switzerland

Bellinzona, Switzerland—On Thursday, *Fatou Ceesay, a rape victim and plaintiff, took the stand in the crimes against humanity trial against Gambia’s former interior minister Ousman Sonko in the Swiss city of Bellinzona.

Sonko was the police chief under ex-president Yahya Jammeh from 2005 to 2006. In the latter part of 2006, he was appointed minister of interior, a position he held from November 2006 to February 2012 and from May 2012 to September 2016.

The Swiss Attorney General’s office, along with 10 plaintiffs from Gambia, is accusing Sonko of torture, murder, false imprisonment, rape, and deprivation of liberty, allegedly perpetrated against Gambians during the 22-year rule of Gambia’s former dictator Jammeh.

*Ceesay, who requested not to use her real name, was accused of being involved in a foiled coup led by the army chief of defense staff Col. Ndure Cham. In the aftermath of the coup, several people—military officers and civilians—were rounded up, including Ceesay, who was a civilian.

A panel was established and composed of various heads of security institutions. Sonko allegedly sat on it, Ceesay testified. Several investigations, including one by the country’s Truth Commission, established that such panels are confession exercises accompanied by the beating of Junglers, a paramilitary hit squad operating on the orders of Jammeh.

“They took me to a room. They removed my glasses, put a plastic bag over my head, and started beating me from all directions. That went on for a long time. They do this until you can’t breathe,” said Ceesay. After the beating, she was allegedly raped by one of the Junglers.

“One of them came in and turned off the light,” she said. “The whole room was dark. I thought I was going to be beaten again. I saw a Jungler with a mask. He jumped on me, opened my legs and started molesting me. He raped me,” said Ceesay.

Hearing continues tomorrow with testimony from Demba Dem.

Source: Malagen, January 11th 2024
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Momodou



Denmark
11549 Posts

Posted - 12 Jan 2024 :  20:15:36  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Witness says Gambia’s ex-interior minister oversaw interrogation and torture

Demba Dem, the fourth plaintiff in the crimes against humanity trial of Gambia’s former interior minister, Ousman Sonko, testified on Friday and told the court that Sonko allegedly sat on an investigative panel that oversaw his interrogation and torture. The trial against Sonko began this week in the Swiss city of Bellinzona.

Dem was a Gambian lawmaker for ex-President Yahya Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party in 2006 when he was arrested by security officials over his alleged involvement in a foiled plot to overthrow Jammeh. (Dem has always maintained his innocence and denied being involved in the attempted coup.)

In the aftermath of the attempted coup, close to 70 Gambians—military officers and civilians, including Dem—were arrested and subjected to horrific torture at the complex of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), on the outskirts of Banjul.

“The suspects were all tortured at the NIA. Evidence was fabricated and used against them to convict them of treason,” Gambia’s Truth Commission found. Those tortured also included journalists Madi Ceesay and Musa Saidykhan, both of whom are expected to testify against Sonko in the coming days.

Dem is the third plaintiff before the Swiss court to testify on events related to the 2006 attempted coup. Sonko faces allegations that he participated in the panel that oversaw the interrogations and torture of detainees, charges he denied. If found guilty, Sonko could face up to 20 years in prison.

The court resumes hearings on Monday.

Source: Malagen, January 12th 2024

https://malagen.org/live-blog/
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Momodou



Denmark
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Posted - 15 Jan 2024 :  17:21:15  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Former interior minister Sonko contest involvement in murder of Baba Jobe

The former interior minister, Ousman Sonko— standing trial for crimes against humanity in the Swiss city of Bellinzona— has contested allegations he was involved in the planning, and ultimately, the execution of Baba Jobe, a former ally of ex-president Yahya Jammeh killed on his hospital bed by Junglers in 2012.

Jobe, a former majority leader of Jammeh’s APRC party, was sentenced to a 9-year, 8-month jail term in 2004 for economic crimes. Barely a year before he was released, Junglers walked into his hospital bed and suffocated him with his hospital pillow, testified Jungler Omar Jallow who was involved in his murder.

Jallow told the Swiss prosecutors that when they arrived at the hospital, they found Lamin Sanneh, an orderly of David Colley, who informed them that Jobe was asleep. And In 2018, David Colley also told the Swiss prosecutors that he got a call from Sonko to grant Jungler Nuha Badgie access to Jobe. Sonko contested Colley’s claims.

"David Colley has operational and administrative responsibility over prison services and all the prisons in the Gambia. As such, he does not need instructions from me," said Sonko.

Source: Malayan
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Momodou



Denmark
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Posted - 16 Jan 2024 :  13:12:36  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Swiss Court hears killing of Baba Jobe, Sandeng, Almamo Manneh, and tortured others
The Point: Jan 16, 2024
By: Sanna Camara


https://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/headlines/swiss-court-hears-killing-of-baba-jobe-sandeng-almamo-manneh-and-tortured-others

The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona this week continues to hear charges of torture, extrajudicial killings and sexual violence against former Interior Minister Mr Ousman Sonko in Switzerland. Prominent names like former APRC Majority Leader Baba Jobe, former top State Guards Commander Almamo Manneh and opposition activist Solo Sandeng were key highlights of the trial. Also cases of torture for former opposition National Assembly Members, a former Captain of the Gambia Armed Forces are among this list of witnesses that testified against the former Jammeh strong man.

In January 2017, Sonko was arrested in a Swiss asylum centre and has been in jail ever since. The case was referred to Swiss authorities by Geneva-based NGO, TRIAL International. Under the principle of "universal jurisdiction", crimes against humanity can be tried even if the accused is not a national of the country he’s arrested in. Hence the Office of the Federal Prosecution in Switzerland acted swiftly to launch an investigation into crimes of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture and rape under former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, and bearing responsibility for Sonko’s failure to prevent them as Minister.

Under the Swiss legal system, the investigation process is usually thorough and long, while trials are shorter. This resulted to Sonko’s seven year detention by Swiss authorities while investigators gather evidence, interview witnesses both in The Gambia and outside, to enable them prepare a formal indictment for prosecutions. During this period, Swiss investigators from the Federal Office of Police, and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) travelled to Gambia several times in the framework of mutual judicial cooperation. Several other witnesses were invited to Switzerland to testify and give evidence against Sonko.

Meanwhile, the trial that started last week, so far, has heard the testimonies of several witnesses from The Gambia. On Day 1 of the trial last week Monday, indictments were read out to the defendant Ousman Sonko, as the trial formally opens with series of official statements that also gave opportunity for Sonko to react to those indictments. His lawyer raised objections to new charges, which the prosecutors say, were based on new information. It is worth noting that several other plaintiffs also brought charges against Sonko in addition to the Prosecutor’s indictments. Sonko’s lawyer objected to these in a session that saw the back-and-forth arguments all day. The court subsequently took a decision on the morning of Day 2 (Tuesday), dismissing Sonko’s objections and opening way for the prosecutions to proceed.

In the afternoon of Day 2, Sonko was questioned on his personal information such as dates and place of birth, residence, education, children, etc. Following these, the prosecution’s strategy was to categorise the case into killings, murders, sexual violence such as rape; torture allegations following March 2006 alleged coup emanating from several witness’ testimonies and evidence. Also, was the matter of 2016 killing of Solo Sandeng, the torture of opposition activists, and the killing of former majority leader Baba Jobe.

Sonko meanwhile, did not take responsibility for the crimes of tortures and killings that he is alleged to have either supervised or had knowledge of. According to prosecutors, Sonko bears responsibility as Minister in charge of the security forces and had power to stop these acts of torture, especially the case of the execution of Mile 2 death row inmates, and chose to ignore its conduct or allegedly approved of it. Sonko denied knowledge of crimes committed in the prison and instead blamed all on David Colley, who was director of Prisons under his ministry. To prove their case, prosecution invited two officials of the Gambia Prison Services who both testified against Sonko as either knowing, instructing for these acts, or sometimes supervising them himself.

In the case of Almamo Manneh, Sonko had said he would exercise his right to remain silent. But he had earlier agreed to answer questions about this killing to the court, when questioned about them during investigations. He told the court that he is bound by Official Secrets Act of The Gambia, and will not speak on the matter of Almamo Manneh. Lawyers for plaintiffs and prosecutors found this statement baffling, and indicative of Sonko sitting on tons of secrets he knew would incriminate him once revealed. Notwithstanding, the court respected his right to exercise silence over the matter.

A former Army captain of the Gambia Armed Forces also testified that he was tortured and forced to write a statement that he had to read on TV as purportedly a” prepared announcement” once the alleged 2006 coup plot succeeded. However, the witness maintained there was no statement prepared for the fateful March 2006 alleged coup as told to the Gambian public. Similarly, two National Assembly Members also testified they were tortured to give statement about their alleged involvement in the 2006 coup, but maintained their innocence of this alleged coup.

Meanwhile, Alhagie Martin, Tumbul Tamba and Musa Jammeh were identified as the torturers while a panel that was tasked to investigate them, received confessions after tortures. Those panel members were identified as Ousman Sonko, Momodou Hydara and Lang Tombong Tamba, among others.



The case continues.
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Momodou



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Posted - 16 Jan 2024 :  19:32:58  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
'Ngum took the Swiss court into the NIA complex, describing the abhorrent conditions, and emotional and physical torture meted against him and others.'
Swiss Court hears Testimony on Torture of Gambians Protesting Electoral Reform Reports Malagen

Bellinzona, Switzerland–Modou Ngum, a torture victim, testified before a Swiss court in the crimes against humanity trial of former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko. Ngum broke down as he told the court he was protesting electoral reforms on April 14, 2016, when he was arrested by Gambian police and tortured by National Intelligence Agency (NIA) officials.

In April 2016, a rare protest broke out in Gambia while the country's former President and 22-year dictator, Yahya Jammeh, was traveling. The protest was led by a member of the opposition UDP—Ebrima Solo Sandeng—who was beaten to death in state custody. The event set off a series of protests and the arrest of over 30 party members, including party leader Ousainu Darboe.

On the first day of protests, Sandeng was arrested with at least 13 people—including Ngum, and taken to NIA, where they were brutally tortured, leading to Sandeng’s death. At least five other people involved in the protests have died since 2017. Their relatives attributed their deaths to the torture they endured at the NIA.

Ngum took the Swiss court into the NIA complex, describing the abhorrent conditions, and emotional and physical torture meted against him and others.

“They stripped me naked and took me to a room at the NIA,” Ngum, who was 29 years old at the time, said. Ngum told the court that Tamba Masireh, an NIA official found responsible by the High Court in Banjul for the torture of detainees, said they were going to kill him.

“The Junglers came. They beat me until I could not hear myself crying. They later threw me on the grass in an open courtyard. That was where I regained consciousness,” Ngum said. Ngum said he was electrocuted on his genitals. The protesters were sentenced to a 3-year jail term, but Ngum and several others could not appear in court for two weeks due to injuries caused by torture.

“They did not want the court to see me in that condition. That was why I was allowed to see a doctor,” he said. “They told us not to wear our clothes with which we were tortured. They bought us new clothes,” he said.

Madi Ceesay, a lawmaker whose son Ebrima Ceesay was tortured and died shortly after, and Fatoumata Sandeng, the daughter of Solo Sandeng, who died in state custody, sat in tears in the courtroom. Fatoumatta Jawara and Fatoumatta Camara, two torture victims expected to testify before the court, buried their heads in their hands and wiped their tears.
Sonko’s ‘responsibility’

Sonko served as police chief under ex-President Jammeh from 2005 to 2006. In the latter part of 2006, he was appointed minister of interior, a position he held from November 2006 to February 2012 and from May 2012 to September 2016.

Arrested in January 2017, the Swiss Attorney General’s office, along with 10 plaintiffs from Gambia, is accusing Sonko of torture, murder, false imprisonment, rape, and deprivation of liberty, allegedly perpetrated against Gambians during Jammeh’s rule.

The Swiss prosecutors are trying to prove Sonko’s responsibility for torture through his participation in various investigation panels as inspector general or for ordering or abetting abuse as interior minister.

Ngum placed Sonko on the panel that oversaw his torture at the NIA and at the paramilitary barracks, where they were processed before being taken to the NIA.

“The police were under the command of Ousman Sonko, and he was present on the panel. And Sonko was there when I was asking for water to drink. It was refused,” said Ngum. He also accused Sonko and the jailed former head of the NIA, Yankuba Badgie, of ordering his transfer from police custody to the NIA, where he and others were tortured. Sonko denies all wrongdoing.

(Badgie and four former members of the NIA implicated in the torture of the protesters and the killing of Sandeng were sentenced to death by a High Court in Banjul in July 2022.)

Malagen's report of the ongoing trial is a collaboration with New Narratives as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project.

You can follow Malagen live blog from the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona where Gambia's former interior minister Ousman Sonko is standing trial for crimes against humanity. The court hears its fifth witness in the trial, prison officer Lamin Sanneh.



Source: https://malagen.org/live-blog/

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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Momodou



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Posted - 18 Jan 2024 :  10:42:24  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
APRIL 14 TORTURE SURVIVORS FACE SONKO IN COURT
The Standard: JANUARY 17, 2024


By Mustapha K Darboe


https://standard.gm/april-14-torture-survivors-face-sonko-in-court/
with New Narratives

On the seventh day of the ongoing crime against humanity trial in Switzerland of former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko, an alleged torture victim Modou Ngum, broke down as he told the court about the horrendous treatment meted out to him at the notorious NIA premises where he was taken by the Gambia police who arrested him and other protesters demanding electoral reforms on 14 April 2016.

The protest was led by a member of the opposition UDP—Ebrima Solo Sandeng—who was beaten to death in state custody. Further protest about Sandeng’s killing set off a series of protests that led to the arrest of over 30 party members of the UDP including its leader Ousainu Darboe.

On the first day of protests, Sandeng was arrested with at least 13 people—including Ngum, and taken to NIA, where they were brutally tortured, leading to Sandeng’s death. At least five other people involved in the protests have died since 2017. Their relatives attributed their deaths to the torture they endured at the NIA.


In his testimony yesterday Ngum took the Swiss court into the NIA complex, describing the abhorrent conditions, and emotional and physical torture meted against him and others.


“They stripped me naked and took me to a room at the NIA,” Ngum, who was 29 at the time, said. He told the court that one Tamba Masireh, an NIA official found responsible by the High Court in Banjul for the torture of detainees told him they were going to kill him.

“The Junglers came and beat me until I could not hear myself crying before throwing me on the grass in an open courtyard. That was where I regained consciousness,” Ngum said. Ngum said he was electrocuted on his genitals adding that he and his fellow protesters were later sentenced to a 3-year jail term, but he and several others missed the start of the trial and for two weeks due to injuries caused by the torture.

“They did not want the court to see me in that condition and so I was allowed to see a doctor and warned us not to wear the clothes in which we were tortured. They made sure they bought us new clothes for the court hearing,” Ngum told the Swiss court.

As Ngum was testifying, Madi Ceesay, the National Assembly Member for Serekunda West whose son Ebrima, was tortured and died shortly after, and Fatoumata Sandeng, the daughter of Solo Sandeng, who died in state custody, sat in tears in the courtroom while nominated member Fatoumatta Jawara and Fatoumatta Camara, two torture victims expected to testify before the court, buried their heads in their hands and wiped their tears.

Sonko’s alleged responsibility

Ousman Sonko served as police chief under ex-President Jammeh from 2005 to 2006. In the later part of 2006, he was appointed Minister for Interior, a position he held from November 2006 to February 2012 and from May 2012 to September 2016.

Arrested in January 2017, the Swiss Attorney General’s office, along with 10 plaintiffs from Gambia, is accusing Sonko of torture, murder, false imprisonment, rape, and deprivation of liberty, allegedly perpetrated against Gambians during Jammeh’s rule.


The Swiss prosecutors are trying to prove Sonko’s responsibility for torture through his participation in various investigation panels as inspector general or for ordering or abetting abuse as interior minister.

Ngum said Sonko was in the panel that oversaw his torture at the NIA and at the paramilitary barracks, where they were processed before being taken to the NIA.

“The police were under the command of Ousman Sonko, and he was present in the panel and I remember Sonko was there when I was asking for water to drink which was refused,” said Ngum. He also accused Sonko and the jailed former head of the NIA, Yankuba Badgie, of ordering his transfer from police custody to the NIA, where he and others were tortured. Sonko denies all wrongdoing.

Badgie and four former members of the NIA implicated in the torture of the protesters and the killing of Sandeng were sentenced to death by a High Court in Banjul in July 2022.)

This was a collaboration with New Narratives as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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