D63 Million Fine: How Ousman Sonko Pays

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Ousman Sonko

By Sanna Camara

The question of paying D20 million compensation to victims who acted as plaintiffs against former Gambian Interior Minister, Mr Ousman Sonko, and the 884, 973 Swiss francs (total equivalent of D63, 237, 925) has become pertinent, given that the convict had only 14, 413 Swiss Francs (equivalent to 1million and 80, 000 Gambian Dalasi) in his possession when he got arrested in 2017.

“The money in cash seized from Ousman Sonko in the total amount of CHF 14,413.30, deposited in the account of the Office of the Attorney General at the Federal Finance Administration, reference account n° 2016007328 BA SV.17.0026, is forfeited,” the judge said in the verdict.

Alberto Fabbri, president of the three-member panel of judges said the amount in cash forfeited from Ousman Sonko has been allocated to the private claimants to cover their civil claims, and in proportion to their claims:

  1. Binta Jamba CHF 2,295.60;
  2. Bunja Darboe CHF 587.–;
  3. Ramzia Diab CHF 652.60;
  4. Demba Dem CHF 2,092.30;
  5. Musa Saidykhan CHF 4,079.70;
  6. Madi Ceesay CHF 403.40;
  7. Fatoumatta Sandeng Darboe CHF 2,295.60;
  8. Community of heirs Nokoi Njie CHF 614.40;
  9. Fatou Camara CHF 669.–;
  10. Fatoumatta Jawara CHF 723.70

The court had found Mr Ousman Sonko guilty of multiple counts of intentional homicide as a crime against humanity – against Almamo Manneh, Baba Jobe and Ebrima Solo Sandeng; of multiple counts of false imprisonment as a crime against humanity, to the detriment of Bunja Darboe, Ramzia Diab, Demba Dem, Musa Saidykhan and Madi Ceesay.

It also found him guilty of multiple counts of torture as a crime against humanity to the detriment of Bunja Darboe, Ramzia Diab, Demba Dem, Musa Saidykhan, Madi Ceesay, Ebrima Solo Sandeng, Nokoi Njie, Modou, Ngum, Fatou Camara, Fatoumatta Jawara and Modou Touray.

The Federal Criminal Court therefore condemned Ousman Sonko to a custodial sentence of 20 years, which considers the in-total of 2,667 days already served in custody of the police: the pre-trial and preventive detention before the date of judgement.

The Criminal Division of the Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland has therefore denied all compensation requests made by Ousman Sonko, and instead imposed obligatory compensation of about 200, 000 Swiss Francs, equivalent to D20 million, for the pain and suffering caused to various plaintiffs that sued him at the Swiss court.

The compensation is outlined as follows:

  1. Binta Jamba (widow of Almamo Manneh) CHF 35,000. — plus 5% interest from 8 July 2007;
  2. Bunja Darboe (Gambia Armed Forces) CHF 8,950. — plus 5% interest from 20 April 2006;
  3. Ramzia Diab (former parliamentarian) CHF 9,950. — plus 5% interest from 1 December 2006;
  4. Demba Dem CHF 31,900. — plus 5% interest from 20 April 2006;
  5. Musa Saidykhan (former newspaper editor) CHF 62,200. — plus 5% interest from 21 April 2006;
  6. Madi Ceesay (former President, GPU) CHF 6,150. — plus 5% interest from 21 April 2006;
  7. Fatoumatta Sandeng Darboe (daughter of Solo Sandeng) CHF 35,000. — plus 5% interest from 15 April 2016;
  8. Community of heirs of Nokoi Njie CHF 9,366.70 plus 5% interest from 17 September 2016;
  9. Fatou Camara (UDP activist) CHF 10,200. — plus 5% interest from 17 September 2016;
  10. Fatoumatta Jawara (former UDP activist) CHF 11,033.30 plus 5% interest from 17 September 2016.

The procedural costs amount to CHF 889,445.30 in total (fees for the preliminary proceedings: CHF 100,000; expenses for preliminary and main proceedings, including compensation to private claimants, amount to CHF 729,445.30; court fee: CHF 60,000.–). CHF 844,973 of these costs (equivalent to 63 million 237 925 Gambian Dalasi) are imposed on Ousman Sonko.

  1. The remainder is taken over by the public treasury.

Sabrina Beyeler, Federal Prosecutor in the case of Mr Osman Sonko, said the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) is very satisfied with the judgment rendered by the Federal Criminal Court. She described it as a landmark decision for the victims from The Gambia, who have gone to great lengths to participate in the proceedings and give evidence.

“For the Swiss justice, it (the verdict) symbolizes a further milestone in international criminal law,” she said, following the judgment delivered on Wednesday, May 15th, 2024, in Bellinzona: “It shows that these types of crimes are consistently prosecuted and punished and underlines the high level of commitment demonstrated both by the Office of the Attorney General and Switzerland as a country in this field.”

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