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Senegal Seeks Ten Year Sonko Sentence

FILE: Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko in Dakar on March 8, 2021. Prosecutors in Senegal who had sought two years in prison for opposition leader Ousmane Sonko have filed an appeal after he was given a two-month suspended sentence for his conviction on libel charges.

DAKAR - Senegal's public prosecutor on Wednesday asked judges overseeing the rape trial of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko to find him guilty and sentence him to 10 years in jail, which would likely bar him for running for president in elections next year.

Testimony continued late into the night as judges heard Sonko's rape accuser and the massage parlor's former owner Khady Ndiaye among others.

Sonko, 48, is accused of sexually assaulting and making death threats to a woman who worked in a massage parlor in 2021. He denies wrongdoing and has boycotted the court proceedings.

The doctor who consulted her on the evening of the alleged event said he had found traces of sperm.

Ndiaye, accused of complicity in the matter, denied any of the services provided by her former employees involved sexual acts.

Sonko's lawyers were unable to speak on his behalf due to his absence, which also means he will not be able to appeal if convicted.

At 3 a.m., the public prosecutor called on judges to sentence Sonko to 10 years in prison for rape, or five years for moral corruption, and a fine equivalent to over $3,300 if the rape charge was not upheld.

The case was adjourned for deliberation after his statement.

Sonko and his party have not yet reacted to the proposed sentence.

The verdict in Sonko's trial is expected on June 1, with the state seeking ten years in prison if convicted.

Particularly popular among youths, Sonko has been embroiled in a legal saga he says is a ploy to bar him from polls in February 2024. He was handed a suspended prison sentence in a separate libel case this month, which he has appealed.

Violent protests have taken place in Senegal since Sonko was first detained for alleged rape in 2021.