Swiss court dismisses Sonko’s prison torture claims

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A Swiss court has rejected the demand of former Gambian interior minister Ousman Sonko to investigate alleged torture acts against him. Sonko is currently detained in Switzerland under charges of war crimes.
The federal appeals court published on Thursday its decision not to investigate Sonko’s claims of mistreatment in his Swiss detention centre, where he has been held for just over a year.

The Gambian claimed that he was only allowed outdoors one hour a day, while the rest of his detention was spent in isolation. He also said he was only able to work sporadically since being arrested.
The federal court rejected that these conditions amounted to a penal mistreatment; Sonko is subjected to the standard rules and procedures of the Bernese prison system, it said.
Sonko, who had initially sought asylum incognito in Switzerland, was arrested by authorities in January 2017. He is currently under investigation by the war crimes office on suspicion of facilitating torture while occupying several key posts during Yahya Jammeh’s 1994-2017 regime in The Gambia.

The UN special rapporteur on torture has said that torture and ill-treatment is still widespread and used systematically on persons arrested on grounds of national security in the African state.
NGO Trial International accused Sonko of having personally taken part in what it described as torture between 2006 and 2016.
Swissinfo.ch