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Sonko Not Free Of Rape Charges

By Sanna camara

Lawyer for Binta Jamba, Ms Annina Mullis the allegations of multiple charges of rape against Ousman Sonko by her client, together with another victim that were discontinued by the Swiss federal Criminal Court do not exonerate Ousman Sonko of these crimes.
Speaking to us in Zurich after the verdict in Bellinzona , Switzerland, Binta Jamba’s ruthless and uncompromising, protective lawyer argued that discontinuing the case of Binta Jamba is in no way an acquittal for Ousman Sonko. She further maintained that the decision does not mean that the court did not recognize the fact of the rape.
“Rather, it did not qualify it as a crime against humanity, a perspective that I strongly disagree with,” she said.

The court had discontinued, to use its exact words, “abandoned,” the proceedings of multiple counts of rape (Article 190, paragraph 1 of the Swiss Criminal Code) against Mr Ousman Sonko, to the detriment of Binta Jamba.

Ms. Mullis argues that such a decision follows a pattern of disregarding sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) as a systematic violence and intentional tool used in oppressive systems against women that also affects the broader society .

“In my opinion, it is not an individual crime… but this is how the court qualifies it: as an individual crime that is not connected to systematic violence during the Jammeh regime,” she said, expressing her utter disappointment with the Swiss justice system on this subject.

That the court dropped Binta’s case on legal reasons is seen as “highly disappointing” by her lawyer, because the information that she and the prosecution provided the court amply illustrated that SGBV was a systematic practice as a form of violence in The Gambia under Jammeh, and not an individual, isolated incident.

To proof that point to the court, the lawyer had requested several witnesses to testify to this fact, which all had been rejected by the court. Also, they could not provide relevant information…
“Without these witnesses, the court had eventually decided there was no systematic use of SGBV, which I find legally problematic and highly disappointing,” she said.
The Federal Prosecutor in her plea had in March 2024 said to the court that from their Office’s point of view, Binta JAMBA’s statements about the rapes show a sufficient number of different and real characteristics that suggest that her statements are true and that the events occurred as she described.

“As part of the described extensive and systematic attack against the civilian population, the accused, as a then captain of the State Guard, is said to have regularly raped the widow of the killed coup-suspect soldier Almamo MANNEH, in Tujereng and Bakau between 2000 and 2002. He is also said to have imprisoned (her) in Banjul for several days in January 2005 as the then commander of the first infantry battalion, and repeatedly tortured and raped her,” prosecution explained to the Court.

In contrast, the federal prosecutor said Sonko’s statements are not very convincing. That he did not comment on the events themselves. Instead, he accused Binta JAMBA of lying.
“To date, (Sonko) has not provided any explanation as to why Binta JAMBA should lie. It is also important to take into account that the accused does not have to incriminate himself. He doesn’t have to say anything and can even lie. In connection with Binta JAMBA’s allegations, the accused was unable to provide any convincing reasons why Binta JAMBA’s statements should not be believed…,” said the Federal Prosecutor , further arguing that Sonko went on the counterattack, by accusing the victim of being a liar.

Overall, lawyer for Binta Jamba, Annina Mullis, sees the verdict convicting Ousman Sonko as “a success: “I think this is a strong position and if the court wants to add individual crimes, it will have to be higher, which is not possible,” she said.

Under the Swiss judicial system, 20 years is the maximum penalty the court could give Sonko, since it did not apply paragraph 2 of the ‘crimes against humanity’ article in the Swiss Criminal Code. Notwithstanding, the lawyer and her client are set to file an appeal against the decisions of the multiple counts of rape against Sonko.

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