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Acquited & Sentenced

Senegal opposition leader cleared of rape, sentenced for ‘corrupting youth’

Senegal opposition leader cleared of rape, sentenced for ‘corrupting youth’
Protesters hold photos of Senegalese politician Ousmane Sonko who challenged president Macky Sall in the 2019 presidential election during an anti-government rally in Dakar, Senegal, on 12 May 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE/Jerome Favre)

A court in Senegal on Thursday acquitted leading opposition politician and presidential aspirant Ousmane Sonko of charges of rape and making death threats, but sentenced him to two years in jail for corrupting youth.

Sonko, 48, was accused of raping a woman who worked in a massage parlour in 2021 and making death threats against her. He denies wrongdoing and is boycotting court proceedings.

The case has triggered violent protests on the streets of Senegal, with Sonko’s supporters denouncing the charges against him as politically motivated, which the government and the justice system deny.

Senegal’s electoral code prevents individuals convicted of a criminal offence from running for political office.

Separately, Sonko is appealing against a six-month suspended prison sentence for libel. The implications of that separate conviction for his presidential bid are not yet clear.

(Reporting by Ngouda Dione Writing by Sofia ChristensenEditing by Estelle Shirbon)

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