Senegal: Opposition Leader Sonko Gets Suspended Sentence for ‘Insult’

Cape Town — Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was 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 amount of damages fixed at first instance: 200 million CFA francs. Sonko risks ineligibility in the event of a final conviction.

He was also ordered to pay damages like the court ordered at first instance, i.e. 200 million CFA francs (300,000 euros).

The trial was held in the absence of Sonko, having said on Sunday evening May 7 that he would not be present. “I will no longer appear before this justice to answer anything,” he said.

Minister of Tourism Mame Mbaye Niang said in court that he felt “slandered”, “injured”, “dragged in the mud” during the incident, reports correspondent in Dakar, Charlotte Idrac.

Niang’s seven lawyers wanted 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.

Demonstration already scheduled for Friday

Today, 257 prisoners – mostly from his Pastef party – have also decided to start a hunger strike, notably in solidarity with him.

Ousmane 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 16.

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

Translated from RFI by allafrica’s Michael Tantoh