Lawyer of Senegal’s opposition leader Sonko arrested

Lawyer of Senegal’s opposition leader Sonko arrested

Juan Branco, a French national, was arrested while trying to leave Senegal, local media reports

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) - One of the lawyers of Senegalese opposition figure Ousmane Sonko has been arrested by law enforcement agents, local media reported on Saturday.

Juan Branco, a French national, “was arrested on Saturday near Rosso,” a town between the border of Senegal and Mauritania, and “was due to be transferred to the capital, Dakar,” the official Senegalese news agency APS reported, citing police.

Branco, who was trying to leave Senegal aboard a canoe, had reportedly disguised as a fisherman in the night from Friday to Saturday to try to reach Mauritania's airport, and then head to France, according to Senego, a local news portal.

He is said to have entered Senegal through porous borders with Gambia last month following the recent arrest of his client.

Last month, Senegal issued an international arrest warrant for Branco after what the public prosecutor said followed reviewing of his statements, social media posts and writings which revealed elements of “criminal offenses.”

Branco requested the International Criminal Court to investigate Senegalese President Macky Sall for “crimes against humanity” following June deadly protests, which erupted after the sentencing of Sonko for “corrupting the youth.”

He also filed a complaint with a Paris court, accusing Senegalese officials of committing crimes against humanity.

A Senegalese court at the end of last month detained Sonko for charges which include calls for insurrection and conspiracy against the authority of the state.

The government has also dissolved Sonko’s political party, Patriots of Senegal for Work, Ethics and Fraternity (PASTEF).

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