Senegal: deliberations expected in the rape trial of Ousmane Sonko
Dakar wakes up under high tension. The deliberations of the trial of the opponent Ousmane Sonko for rape is expected this Thursday. The declared presidential candidate of 2024 faces five to ten years in prison. If convicted, he will be permanently ineligible.
[Illustrative image] Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko addresses his supporters during a rally in Ziguinchor on May 24, 2023. AFP - MUHAMADOU BITTAYE
Text by: RFI Follow
with our correspondents in Dakar,
This is the conclusion of a case that has lasted for more than two years... It all began in February 2021, recalls Juliette Dubois in Dakar, when a massage parlor employee, Adji Sarr, filed a complaint against the opponent for rape and death threats. He has since admitted to going for a massage for back problems but he denies any rape and denounces a political plot to exclude him from the presidential race.
► Also listen: "I want nothing more than a trial," says Adji Sarr
The trial opened last Tuesday without Ousmane Sonko who had entrenched himself in his stronghold of Ziguinchor in Casamance... He said that the security conditions were not in place for him to go there.
After a marathon day of hearing, the prosecutor finally requested five years in prison for corruption of youth ORten years in prison for rape against the opponent...
In case of conviction, Ousmane Sonko will not be able to appeal because it is a judgment in his absence, in absentia and he will also be declared ineligible.
Will Ousmane Sonko go to court today?
We know that Ousmane Sonko has been in Dakar since Sunday. He was forcibly brought back by the gendarmerie while he had launched a large caravan from Ziguinchor with his supporters... But it is not yet known if he will go to court on Thursday.
The day promises to be tense, motorcycle traffic is prohibited and in recent days clashes have broken out in some districts of Dakar. A man was killed last Friday in clashes between protesters and security forces as Ousmane Sonko drove through the town of Kolda with his convoy.
All access to the district of city Keur Gorgui remained blocked by the defense and security forces yesterday, Wednesday, says Charlotte Idrac. The deputy of the Pastef party, Guy Marius Sagna, tried once again to approach the home of Ousmane Sonko, without success. "This blockade around the house of President Ousmane Sonko is illegal, insists the deputy. If there is to be condemnation, it will be necessary to fight, to impose a balance of power on President Macky Sall so that he retreats and in his fatal and deadly plan of third term ...»
► Read also: In Senegal, thousands of demonstrators in Dakar against a possible 3rd candidacy of Macky Sall
Thousands of demonstrators gathered at the call of the F24 platform in Dakar against a possible 3rd term of Macky Sall, May 12, 2023. © Charlotte Idrac / RFI
The "counter-dialogue" announced by the platform of the "F24 living forces" could not take place. "The police ordered us to leave the headquarters of the Grand Party" where the meeting was to be held, says a member of the collective.
For more than two years now, the legal proceedings between Ousmane Sonko and former masseuse Adji Sarr have been a source of violence. This case divides the country. "It's time for it to stop" for Benjamin, once again prevented from circulating on two wheels. Decision of the governor of Dakar "as a security measure".
Day of deliberation in the rape trial of Ousmane Sonko: "It's been going on too long"
While Ousmane Sonko called on his supporters to mobilize, the Head of State displayed his firmness yesterday: "The State is and will remain standing to protect the Nation, the Republic and its institutions," says Macky Sall.
Ousmane Sonko, it should be recalled, has already been sentenced on appeal to six months in prison suspended for defamation against Minister Mame Mbaye Niang in early May.
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