Opened this Thursday, March 16 at the court of Dakar, the trial for “defamation” opposing the Minister of Tourism, Mame Mbaye Niang to Ousmane Sonko, the leader of Pastef, has been postponed to March 30, 2023.
The trial of Ousmane Sonko, prosecuted for “defamation, public insult, forgery and use of forgeries” which had been postponed first to February 16, then to March 16, 2023, has been postponed again to March 30. And this, at the request of the defense lawyers after one of them and Mr. Sonko himself felt uneasy. Indeed, following a disagreement on the route that the procession of Mr. Sonko should take on Thursday, scuffles broke out between the police and supporters of the opponent. It was at this precise moment that Me Ciré Clédor Ly, one of Ousmane Sonko’s lawyers, and the concerned himself, inhaled tear gas. Thus, Me Clédor was evacuated by a SAMU vehicle and Ousmane Sonko was also taken to the infirmary of the Palais de Justice for consultation.
His lawyers requested the postponement of the trial, arguing that their client was not in a state to appear because he was “brutalized” by the police who were taking him to court. “He was literally beaten up by law enforcement. They put him by force in the vehicle of the Multipurpose Police Brigade. It is unacceptable what is happening and we do not accept the presence of the police officers. You will be accomplices to the crime, because Ousmane Sonko must be followed by a doctor after what happened. We oppose to the holding of the trial,” said Ousseynou Fall, one of his counsel, reported by APS.
Trial for “defamation”
At the origin of this judgment, the Minister of Tourism and Leisure, Mame Mbaye Niang, reproaches Ousmane Sonko for having declared that he had been pinned down by a report of the IGE for his management of a fund of 29 billion CFA francs of the Community Agricultural Domain Program (PRODAC).
Called to the stand, Mame Mbaye Niang said: “I believe in the Constitution. If I came here, it’s because Sonko has declared everywhere that he has a report that finds me guilty. This is the third time I am coming here to get justice. For 4 months, I have been defamed.”
But Ousmane Sonko was no longer in the courtroom. After several minutes of debate, the judge decided to adjourn the case to March 30.
It should be noted that the trial took place in a very tense atmosphere. Throughout the day, scenes of violence broke out in several places in Dakar between opposition supporters and police, with tear gas, stone throwing, and burned buses.
Calls to protest
Since last Tuesday, the Senegalese opposition had called for protests and marches on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Several thousand protestors had thus succeeded in a protest of force at the Acapes field of Parcelles Assainies, in Dakar, on Tuesday March 14. But on the second day (Wednesday), the march was banned in Dakar by the Prefect for “threats of public order disturbances and route under construction”. Activists were only able to protest in other departments of the country. They denounce, among other things, “arbitrary arrests and detentions”, and “the instrumentalization of justice”.
Ousmane Sonko, whose home has been surrounded by an imposing security detail since Wednesday, has been under judicial supervision for two years for an alleged rape case. The said trial has been referred to a criminal chamber, but its date has not yet been set.