The trial former Gambian Interior Minister Ousman Sonko will open on January 8.
The former official is charged with crimes against humanity relating to torture, kidnapping, sexual violence, and unlawful killings between 2000 and 2016 under then-President Yahya Jammeh.
The opening of a Swiss trial on January 8, 2024, for serious crimes committed in The Gambia represents a significant advance for justice for the victims of grave abuses, Gambian and international groups that are part of the Jammeh2Justice campaign said today.
Sonko was arrested in Bern, Switzerland on January 26, 2017, the day after TRIAL International filed a criminal complaint against him. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland filed an indictment against Sonko before the Federal Criminal Court on April 17, 2023. The trial, taking place in the city of Bellinzona, is expected to last about three weeks.
The trial is possible because Swiss law recognizes universal jurisdiction over certain serious international crimes, allowing for the prosecution of these crimes no matter where they were committed and regardless of the nationality of the suspects or victims.
Gambian activists and survivors, and international advocates will attend the trial’s opening in Bellinzona and are available for comment.
In December 24, 2021, the final report of Gambia’s Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) found that Jammeh and 69 of his associates committed crimes against humanity, and called for their prosecution.