Senegal opposition leader sentenced to two years

Friday, June 2nd, 2023 02:00 | By
Senegalese opposition politician Ousmane Sonko. PHOTO/Courtesy

A criminal court in Dakar yesterday sentenced Senegalese opposition politician Ousmane Sonko, a candidate in the 2024 presidential election, to two years’ imprisonment on a charge of “corrupting young people”, while acquitting him of rape.

The criminal division also sentenced Sonko’s co-accused, Ndèye Khady Ndiaye, the owner of the beauty salon where Sonko was accused of repeatedly abusing a female employee, to two years’ imprisonment.

The “corruption of youth”, which consists of poaching or encouraging the debauchery of a young person under the age of 21, is an offence under Senegalese law, and not a crime like rape, a lawyer present at the hearing, Ousmane Thiam, told AFP.

Sonko would have been stripped of electoral rights if he had been convicted in absentia of a crime such as rape.

However, the reclassification of the offence as a misdemeanour under the electoral code appears to maintain the threat of ineligibility for Sonko and his ability to stand in the 2024 presidential election. The case has triggered violent protests, with Sonko’s supporters denouncing the charges against him as politically motivated, which the government and the justice officials deny. It was not immediately clear how the conviction would affect his eligibility for next year’s vote.

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