Senegalese Opposition Leader Ousmane Sonko Given Suspended Sentence in Defamation and Public Insult Appeal

Senegalese Opposition Leader Ousmane Sonko Given Suspended Sentence in Defamation and Public Insult Appeal

Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko has been given a suspended six-month sentence in his appeal against a defamation and public insult conviction in the case between him and Minister Mame Mbaye Niang. The Court of Appeal confirmed the damages amount of 200 million CFA francs, which was fixed at first instance. Sonko could face ineligibility in the event of a final conviction. Additionally, he was ordered to pay the damages as the court ordered at first instance, which amounts to 200 million CFA francs (equivalent to 300,000 euros).

The trial was held in Sonko’s absence, as he announced on May 7th that he would not be present. He said, “I will no longer appear before this justice to answer anything.” In court, Minister of Tourism Mame Mbaye Niang expressed feeling “slandered,” “injured,” and “dragged in the mud” during the incident, according to correspondent Charlotte Idrac in Dakar.

Niang’s seven lawyers sought a minimum sentence of four months, plus the addition of “forgery and use of forgery” to the case. Sonko had accused the minister of having embezzled 29 billion CFA francs, so the civil party requested 29 billion CFA francs in damages. The prosecutor requested a total sentence of two years in prison, including one year, as well as an arrest warrant against Ousmane Sonko.

In solidarity with Ousmane Sonko, 257 prisoners – mostly from his Pastef party – have decided to start a hunger strike. Sonko denounces a plot to remove him from the political scene and recalls his “campaign of civic disobedience against justice.” The politician is also accused of rape in another trial, the first hearing of which is to be held on May 16th.

A demonstration is planned for May 12th by the platform “des forces vives de la nation F24,” who oppose a third term bid for President Macky Sall and denounce “the instrumentalization of justice to eliminate candidates.”

The situation in Senegal is tense as opposition figures and supporters allege political persecution and manipulation of the justice system. As these events continue to unfold, it is critical that the rights of all individuals involved are protected, and that justice is served in a fair and impartial manner.

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