State prosecutors in Switzerland announced on Monday that they were nearing the end of their protracted probe into alleged crimes against humanity by Ousman Sonko, a minister in the administration of former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh.
Since his detention on January 26, 2017, Ousman Sonko has been living in Switzerland, where he had filed for refuge after being fired from his position as interior minister of The Gambia.
He was detained as a result of a complaint filed by the Geneva-based NGO Trial International, which believes he was involved in grave human rights abuses like torture, notably in prison facilities.
Sonko was a key member of Jammeh’s team and oversaw the interior ministry before joining the presidential guard. After serving in the position for ten years, he was let go in September 2016.
Throughout the course of the inquiry, state prosecutors for the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) have frequently remanded Sonko in detention. His incarceration was prolonged to January 25 on November 1 of last year.
“We are about to close the preliminary procedure. We cannot provide any further information at this time,” OAG spokeswoman Claudia Schon told newsmen.
Prosecutors have the option to file an indictment or drop the case after the inquiry is complete. As civil parties, other claimed victims have entered the case.
“As always, the presumption of innocence applies,” said Schon.
Jammeh ruled the small West African nation for 22 years before he was surprisingly ousted by political outsider Adama Barrow in presidential elections in December 2016. Then he made his way to Equatorial Guinea.
Several NGOs accused Jammeh’s government of harassing the media and human rights advocates as well as committing enforced disappearances, accusations that the government consistently denied.
Since 2011, major crimes allegedly committed outside of Switzerland may be heard by Swiss courts, if the accused is present in Switzerland and cannot be extradited or turned over to an international criminal court.
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