Senegal’s opposition leader on Tuesday was questioned in a Dakar court hearing over rape accusations, lawyers told local media.
Ousmane Sonko, who was third in Senegal’s presidential election in 2019, has enjoyed a rapid political rise thanks in part to his popularity with young people and has declared himself a candidate for the 2024 elections.
However, he has also faced legal troubles, most notably being accused of rape by Adji Sarr, an employee of a beauty salon where Sonko went for a massage.
Sonko has denied the charge.
Both sides accused the other of refusing to answer questions at a hearing before an investigating judge at a Dakar courthouse, according to comments they made to local media.
A large security detail was deployed around the building during the hearing.
Sonko’s lawyer Henri Gomis told reporters that it was “up to [the plaintiffs] to bring evidence of the accusations of rape.”
“They have not given any evidence,” Gomis said at the end of the hearing. “The case must be dismissed.”
Sarr’s lawyer said it was Sonko who was not being cooperative.
“Ousmane Sonko refused to answer the questions of the prosecution and the lawyers,” El Hadji Diouf said, adding that “the evidence will come out” if a trial is set.
Sarr told reporters at the court that she was disappointed Sonko had refused to speak.
“He did not answer the head of the judges, lawyers and prosecutors,” she said. “I answered their questions.”
Sonko has described the rape accusation as part of a “plot” to torpedo his 2024 candidacy.
The politician is considered a populist firebrand by his critics.
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