A Senegalese courtroom on Monday handed opposition determine Ousmane Sonko a six-month suspended sentence in an attraction of a defamation case that might jeopardise his run for president subsequent 12 months.
Sonko, 48, got here third within the 2019 presidential election and intends to face once more in 2024, however two courtroom circumstances may wreck his candidacy.
He acquired a two-month suspended sentence and a hefty positive in March for defaming Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang and a Dakar appeals courtroom elevated the time period to 6 months on Monday, doubtlessly making Sonko ineligible for the vote.
Baboucar Cisse, a lawyer for the minister, informed reporters the sentence would rule Sonko out of the 2024 presidential vote if confirmed following a six-day interval for appeals.
A spokesman for Sonko’s occasion, Ousseynou Ly, and supporters on social media additionally mentioned the ruling would scupper his bid if upheld, however the politician’s attorneys left the courtroom with out responding to questions.
The courtroom additionally ordered Sonko to pay 200 million CFA francs (round $330,000) in damages to Niang.
Sonko failed to show as much as Monday’s proceedings, after warning he would now not reply to courtroom summonses with out ensures for his security.
And when the attraction opened, he was nowhere to be seen, an AFP reporter on the courthouse mentioned.
Prosecutor basic Ibrahima Bakhoum had known as on the courtroom to have Sonko arrested and jailed.
– ‘Judicial banditry’ –
Sonko can be dealing with trial later this month for alleged “rape and loss of life threats” over a criticism filed by an worker at a magnificence salon the place he went for a therapeutic massage.
“Now we have by no means seen in the entire world a citizen summoned to courtroom, who turns himself in, be the topic of a lot fierceness, a lot brutality and an try virtually at bodily liquidation,” Sonko mentioned on social media Sunday.
He appeared to check with his claims of a March assassination try by police throughout his compelled switch to the Dakar courtroom throughout preliminary defamation proceedings.
“It’s now not justice, it’s judicial banditry, and that’s the reason I made the choice, nonetheless throughout the framework of my civil disobedience marketing campaign, to now not collaborate with this justice” with out safety ensures, Sonko mentioned Sunday.
Along with interesting his defamation conviction, Sonko has denied the rape cost, saying he’s the sufferer of a plot by President Macky Sall to torpedo his 2024 candidacy.
The federal government has denied the accusation, and alleged Sonko has drummed up demonstrations to keep away from justice.
Sonko’s appointments with the justice system are sometimes sources of pressure and near-paralysis of site visitors within the capital Dakar, as he often travels to courtroom with a procession of sympathisers.
The rape cost towards Sonko in 2021 helped set off riots that left no less than 12 individuals lifeless within the West African nation, which is considered as politically secure in a turbulent area.
Sall’s refusal to rule out operating for a controversial third time period as president — which his opponents say could be unconstitutional — has additionally elevated political tensions.
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