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Prosecutor outlines Sonko’s alleged culpability in closing argument

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By Patience Loum

In his closing arguments on Sonko’s responsibilities over charges brought against him between the years of 2000-2016, yesterday the prosecutor at the Swiss court hearing matter   believes Sonko played an important role in Jammeh’s criminal system, adding that life Imprisonment would be the appropriate overall sentence, comparing Sonko’s crimes to that of Bai Lowe, former Jammeh jungler, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by the German court, with the conclusion that it weighs more heavily.

The prosecutor laid down Sonko’s rise in leadership during Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorial era. From state guard to Minister of Interior, with strong control over the security department.

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The accused played an important role in this [criminal] system from the very beginning. He was neither an unwilling nor an unsuspecting tool of an all-powerful president, as he would have us believe[…]. Rather, as a close confidant of the president, he was fully aware that he was actively committed to realizing his “vision” – and thus the extensive and systematic attack against the civilian population – which secured him a long and highly successful career in the Gambia’s inner circle of power. The minimum requirement that he acted with knowledge of the overall attack must therefore be considered more than fulfilled.”

The prosecutor went on further to highlight Sonko’s charges, with the belief that Sonko was present and undertook in some of these crimes.

Here are the charges displayed in detail below;

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Murder of Almamo Manneh

One of the charges against Sonko is that of the death of former state guard commander Almamo Manneh, who was gunned to death following the release of a phone conversation between the deceased and Ousman Sonko, acting as captain of the state guard, Sonko secretly recorded conversations between him and Almamo, where the deceased narrated plans to overthrow the then President, Yahya Jammeh. This recording was taken to Jammeh who then ordered for Almamo’s arrest.

Sonko then called the deceased for a meet up at Bund Road where he was shot upon arrival by Sonko and his team.

Multiple counts of serial rape, sexual abuse, acts of torture, and deprivation of liberty

Ousman Sonko is also charged for the serial rape on the deceased Almamo Manneh’s wife between the year 2001 to 2005 before the victim fled for asylum in the U.S.

In March 2006, another coup attempt left several individuals in the hands of an investigative panel which includes the NIA, police, prison officers and the junglers, who faced several forms of torture, including sexual abuse of members of the National Assembly. These victims according to testimonies were kidnapped facing multiple human rights violations.

Sonko’s response to these claims were either he was not present, was not part of the investigative team, or was not aware about the tortures happening.

The prosecutor believes Sonko’s denial is simply refusing to take responsibility for these crimes. However, witnesses of the 2006 arrest all stated Sonko was present and even served as a senior member of the panel.

Murder of Baba Jobe

Serving as Minister of Home affairs in 2011, Ousman Sonko is charged for the murder of Baba Jobe, a prominent Gambian politician. Baba Jobe was arrested and detained on the charges of fraud in November 2003 and released on bail. A month later, he was arrested again and sentenced to almost 10 years imprisonment in March 2004.

Following an injury in October 2011, Baba Jobe was hospitalised and later on suffocated to death by the the junglers. Sonko denied the allegations and that he knew nothing of Baba Jobe’s death.

The prosecutor however believes that Sonko played an important role in Baba Jobe’s murder and in fact, served as a leading part of the crime committed.

“The prison authorities functioned well under the leadership and instructions of Ousman Sonko and worked hand in hand with the Junglers and the hospital in carrying out the murder plan.”

Acts of torture in april 2016 demonstration involving Solo Sandeng

In what seemed to be a political demonstration in 2016, involving members of the opposition party, UDP, led by the late Solo Sandeng, the victims were tortured and some faced gravedigger human rights violations including sexual abuse. Again, under the cooperation of the police, NIA, junglers and prison guards.

Solo Sandeng, serving as leader of the demonstration eventually died as a result of the aggravated torture.

According to the prosecutor, “From the arrest at Westfield Junction, through the PIU, the NIA and the prisons, those arrested became victims of the tried and tested system of repression of the state perpetrator collective, which has been described many times before.

This pattern was perfected over a period of 20 years up to 2016, which can be seen, among other things, in how efficiently and naturally the victims were channeled through the various crime scenes.”

The prosecutor concluded by stating that Ousman Sonko, under his leadership as Minister of Interior, was well aware of the crimes by the different authorities under his command but did nothing to stop them. He said considering the circumstances surrounding these crimes, they should be considered as serious crimes against humanity. Mr Sonko has denied all responsibility.

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