Ex-Gambian interior minister Ousman Sonko has been sentenced to 20 years in jail by a Swiss Federal Criminal Court

Sonko, 55, was convicted over a string of offences committed between 2000 and 2016 under the regime of former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh.

He was tried under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows countries to prosecute alleged crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide regardless of where they were committed.

“This verdict confirms that justice knows no borders and that ‘universal jurisdiction’ has become a powerful tool to bring to book tyrants and torturers who thought they had escaped justice,” he said in a statement.

“The conviction of Ousman Sonko, one of the pillars of Yahya Jammeh’s brutal regime, is a major step on the long road to justice for Jammeh’s victims,” said lawyer Reed Brody, a member of the International Commission of Jurists.

Last month, Swiss authorities charged Sonko for human rights violations in Gambia.

Sonko was interior minister from 2006 to 2016, when he fled to Sweden and from there to Switzerland, where he applied for asylum.

He was arrested by Swiss police in January 2017 after the Geneva-based legal group Trial International filed a complaint under the principle of universal jurisdiction that allows prosecution of the most serious crimes irrespective of where they were committed.

Sonko has been held in Switzerland ever since.

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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