Senegal opposition leader Ousmane Sonko’s rape trial adjourned | News


Ousmane Sonko, who denies expenses, doesn’t flip up for court docket look in Dakar.

The trial of Senegalese opposition chief Ousmane Sonko for alleged rape has been instantly adjourned for per week, after opening in his absence at a court docket within the capital, Dakar.

Sonko, who can be the mayor of the southern metropolis of Ziguinchor, was charged primarily based on a lady’s accusations that he assaulted her when she labored at a therapeutic massage salon. The 48-year-old has denied the fees and has accused President Macky Sall of making an attempt to forestall him from operating in elections subsequent yr. The federal government denies this.

“Sonko says he’s not attending court docket as a result of his rights will not be being revered,” Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reported on Tuesday from outdoors the court docket. “He doesn’t imagine within the autonomy of the judicial system.”

A spokesperson for the federal government informed Al Jazeera the trial was a “non-public matter” between two people and it didn’t concern it.

If convicted, Sonko faces as much as 10 years in jail and could be barred from operating for president.

Protests erupted in Ziguinchor and the Dakar space on Monday, on the eve of Sonko’s scheduled court docket look. The inside ministry mentioned a policeman died after being by accident crushed by an armoured car that had been deployed at demonstrations in Ziguinchor.

Crowds blocked roads with logs and burning tyres, throwing stones at police who responded with tear fuel, based on reviews.

Final week, Sonko, a former tax inspector, obtained a suspended six-month sentence for libel stemming from his accusations that the minister of tourism had embezzled funds, a cost the opposition chief denies.

A former tax inspector, the 48-year-old Sonko has develop into the face of rising frustration amongst Senegalese folks in opposition to Sall [File: John Wessels/AFP]


The authorized drama embroiling Sonko has spurred greater than two years of tensions and sporadic unrest in Senegal as supporters – lots of whom are disenfranchised city youth – have heeded requires protests that always spiral into violent clashes with safety forces.

Haque mentioned the trial has introduced Senegal to a “standstill”, citing incidents of violence, faculties shutting down, shops burning and bikes not being allowed on the highway.

“This isn’t only a trial over a rape case,” he added. “For the opposition, the tribunal … is utilized by President Sall to clamp down on the opposition.”

The rising tensions increase the stakes forward of subsequent yr’s election which might see Sall vie for a controversial third term, which the opposition says is unconstitutional.

Sall, 61, has neither confirmed nor denied that he plans to run, amid widespread hypothesis.

His opponents accuse him of searching for to weaken the competitors with false accusations and political trials earlier than the polls. The federal government denies this.

A whole bunch rallied in Dakar final week within the newest present of protest in opposition to Sall’s potential bid for a 3rd time period.

Senegal’s new structure, adopted in 2016, limits presidential phrases to 2 five-year mandates. Nonetheless, Sall informed French newspaper L’Categorical in March that he might technically run as a result of the brand new structure reset the clock on his variety of phrases.

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