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Chronicle of « Forced » Appearances of Ousmane Sonko Before Judges

Who can count the number of times that Ousmane Sonko has had to threaten some of his compatriots with complaints before the judicial institutions? Each time the leader of Pastef felt frightened by the words, deeds or gestures of one of his compatriots, he brandished, rightly or wrongly, the threat to bring down the wrath of Justice on his head. Impertinent because he says he wants to preserve his dignity, his honour. He has also always posed as a prosecutor as the custodian of public property. Even better, many times, Ousmane Sonko has actually taken legal action to complain and ask for the rigorous application of the criminal law against people.

For example, recently, following the publication of a book by Cheikh Yérim Seck in which the author evokes inappropriate nocturnal escapades on the Corniche in Dakar, on the eve of the presidential election of 2019, OusmaneSonko saw red and announced that he was filing a complaint against the author for slander and defamation. OusmaneSonko also threatened to lodge complaints with the Supreme Court against magistrates Serigne Bassirou Guèye (former Dakar prosecutor) and Oumar Maham Diallo (Dean of Dakar judges) for various incriminations. Ousmane Sonko filed a complaint against the former Director of Domains Mamadou Mamour Diallo and businessman Tahirou Sarr, for the alleged case of embezzlement of 94 billion francs in a land transaction; a legal procedure was opened and ended with a verdict of the Court of Cassation. The same Ousmane Sonko had threatened to file a complaint and to formally file a new complaint against Mamadou Mamour Diallo, the lawyer Gaby So, Adji Sarr, lawyer El hadji Diouf, General Moussa Fall as well as other people he accuses of having participated in a conspiracy directed against his person at the Sweet Beauty massage parlour. He fulminated against the legal protections and other jurisdictional privileges enjoyed by lawyers and magistrates.

Ousmane Sonko seized the National Office for the Fight against Corruption (Ofnac) to denounce many of his compatriots.The parliamentarian that he was, asked for the establishment of a parliamentary commission of inquiry into facts likely to prevaricate public resources in the same affair of the 94 billion francs that would have been generated by a transaction on the famous Tf 1451 / R, without daring to respond to the summons of the said parliamentary commission of inquiry. In the Petro-Tim case, he sought to bypass the Dakar prosecutor and seized the Guédiawaye prosecutor with a complaint against Aliou Sall, whom he accused of having cheated Senegal of more than 6,000 billion francs in the operation of a concession of hydrocarbon resources to Frank Timis. This same political party leader and mayor of Ziguinchor had the nerve or the audacity to file three complaints against Senegal and Senegalese nationals before the International Criminal Court for acts of ethnic discrimination and genocide against the populations of Casamance (see our edition of July 12, 2022).

Each time the complaints were registered, the competent institutions had to give them adequate treatment and it so happened that Ousmane Sonko, the complainant, refused to participate in the procedures to clarify the facts denounced.So, how can he be offended that Senegalese like him, whose dignity and honour are undermined by his repeated statements, do not find it legitimate to do justice to themselves? This is the case of Minister Mame Mbaye Niang who believes that he has been unjustly accused, on several occasions, of having siphoned the sum of 29 billion francs from the Prodac coffers.

Ousmane Sonko and his allies cry foul and take Mame Mbaye Niang‘s complaint as a relentless manoeuvre to settle political scores. Simple question: What gives a politician the right and freedom to be able to file complaints against other Senegalese and that other Senegalese do not have the same rights to turn against him, if they have good reasons to do so? Why do the people summoned by Ousmane Sonko comply with summonses and that hewould find it unworthy or illegitimate to appear before the Justice to answer to his own deeds and acts? But the most paradoxical thing is that he himself boasted of his impatience to confuse Mame Mbaye Niang in court when the latter threatened to file a complaint. We are waiting to know if he will attend the trial of February 16, 2023, date of postponement of the defamation trial! Who does not remember that he said he demanded a public trial, as soon as possible, to clear himself of the accusations of rape brought by Adji Sarr. Yet, when, at the end of the judicial investigation, it was a question of setting a date for a trial, he said he would rather die with his last supporters than go to a trial! Does such an attitude denote childish whims or cowardice?

It should be noted that after much procrastination, the public authorities finally showed a determination to enforce the law and compel him to respond to Justice. This is how, despite his calls for resistance, at the cost of a « Mortal Kombat« , Ousmane Sonko had resigned himself to respond to the gendarmerie investigators in the Adji Sarr case. Subsequently, he announced that he refused to respond to the summons of the investigating judge but eventually complied. Better, he who was impatiently waiting to dismantle the accusations sought to refuse to be confronted with Adji Sarr in the office of the investigating magistrate. But, faced with the firmness and intransigence of the judicial authorities, he took heart against bad fortune and accepted the torment of the judicial confrontation of December 7, 2022. There is therefore every reason to believe that he will answer before the Criminal Division in a public trial. In any case, justice will pass: he could be forced to attend the hearing or the judgment will be made in absentia. In the latter case, the risk would be even more fatal for the accused. The absentee receives the maximum of the penalty provided for and in order to be able to exercise an appeal, he will have to surrender himself as a prisoner. As for the defamation lawsuit brought by Mame Mbaye Niang, it will be open to Ousmane Sonko to choose not to defer to the summons. But it would still be at his own risk and peril because he would undoubtedly be judged by default deemed contradictory and would inevitably receive a conviction and a probationary reprieve might not even be granted to him. In judicial practice, the defence of a defendant tried in absentia cannot be ensured by his lawyers. And heavy, firm sentences are pronounced especially in such situations of mistrust of the judicial institution.

Another argument that does not support the defendant in this case is that the media outlets that had reported on this case, in the same terms, had received a six-month suspended sentence, despite their appearance on the stand. Moreover, we would certainly see lawyers using all possible legal remedies, as they systematically do in the Adji Sarr case despite their client’s statements to defy justice and magistrates. It is a truism to say that some approaches are tantamount to dilatory. In the meantime, Ousmane Sonko is doing what some have taken to be childish, for example by going out for a walk in his neighbourhood and juggling a basketball (in the blue, white and red colours of Russia or France?) on 2 February 2023, when the case was called by the Court. An arm of honour? Some observers see it as a mystical act because every time he has to answer to Justice, Ousmane Sonko finds a way to go out into the street, always filmed by the cameras; There is always a brief sequence during which the same person blows a few prayers on the palms of his hands. Prayers or not, the legal procedures are proceeding normally, without hindrance.

Has Sonko Softened His Act?

The ranting and raving of Ousmane Sonko no longer seems to have any hold on the crowds of excited young militants who were ready to give their lives to save his head. Ousmane Sonko who, in February 2021, threatened to throw more than 200,000 demonstrators to dislodge Macky Sall from the presidential palace, seems to have gone soft. Two years later, he has resorted to begging young people to stand up to prevent his conviction. Seeing that his calls are no longer enthusiastically and effectively followed, Ousmane Sonko has tried to explain, in his last outings, to young people not to listen to the voices that would seek to convince them not to serve as his shields. His former splendour and self-confidence seem to have disappeared. The situation has become so pathetic that he finds himself begging the religious leaders to intercede on his behalf and is annoyed by their silence on his fate. The outrageous outbursts of his supporters towards the religious leaders would indicate a lack of serenity, not to say fear or despair. Indeed, he has had the opportunity to measure the new capacities and determination of the security forces to ensure public order. In a way, fear has changed sides. The risk is quite huge because the complaint of Mame Mbaye Niang seems to have shown the way to other people who feel they are victims of his outrageous statements.

The lawyer Dior Diagne, accused of having participated in the alleged conspiracy of the Adji Sarr case, has already assigned bailiffs to summon her accuser to court. Mamadou Mamour Diallo, endowed with a final decision of Justice which clears him in the case of the 94 billion francs would also have committed lawyers to turn against his « intimate enemy », for slanderous denunciation among other incriminations. A cascade of legal proceedings is taking shape against this man who has insults and invectives in his mouth. It’s sort of a trial season for him. We can never say it enough, the march of Justice is slow but it always comes to the end of its road. Moreover, what will happen about the death of the 14 demonstrators on 6, 7 and 8 March 2021 following public insurrectional appeals whose author is well identified? The inertia of the State appears to be guilty, especially since victims or their beneficiaries have filed complaints. In this case, lawyer El Hadji Moustapha Diouf filed a complaint for the arson of his house.

The fact remains that the way things are done seems to have changed. Indeed, no one seems to allow or to grant him the slightest gift. The former prosecutor of Dakar, Serigne Bassirou Guèye, after long months of lynching, finally resolved, January 30, 2023, to reply and especially to brandish, in a clear and distinct way, the warning to pour into revealing more if the attacks against his person continued. Serigne Bassirou Guèye‘s remarks do not seem to have fallen on deaf ears because, as we have noted, for the first time in two years, Ousmane Sonko made a media outing on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, during which he refrained from pronouncing the name of Serigne Bassirou Guèye. Will he make a last-ditch effort to talk about the magistrate again? We will see! In any case, it was noted that when Lawyer Dior Diagne too knocked him down in a statement published in the media, he never again pronounced the name of the lawyer. It seems to pay to return his same weapons and methods. « It takes a rat to deflate a rat! »

By Madiambal DIAGNE / mdiagne@lequotidien.sn

  • Translation by Ndey T. SOSSEH / Serigne S. DIAGNE

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