Senegal’s top court rejects appeal to free ex-president’s son

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Karim Wade, prosecuted and convicted of illegally enriching himself.
Karim Wade, prosecuted and convicted of illegally enriching himself.

The Senegalese highest court has rejected an appeal by Karim Wade to set aside a six year prison sentence. Karim Wade is the son of former senegalese president

Abdoulaye Wade, he was tried on curruption charges last year and sentenced to a six-year term. This is a huge setback to Karim Wade’s presidential ambitions.

Karim was sentenced for charges of “illicit enrichment” during his fathers twelve year reign as president of senegal from 2000 to 2012. He was ordered by the special senegalese anti-graft court to pay a fine of 138 billion CFA francs, which is roughly $235 million.

Wade on his part, has called his prosecution and sentencing a “witch hunt” by the government and shortly before he was sentenced was nominated by his father’s political party(The Senegalese Democratic Party) as it’s presidential candidate. Karim wade continues to maintain his innocence in the face of the charges.

The Senegale presidential polls could be held as early as 2017 if sitting President, Macky Sall wins approval in a referendum due next year to reduce the term to five years from seven.

“The court analyzed the details of the appeal and rejected all of them,” said Aly Fall, a lawyer representing the Senegalese state.

Meanwhile outside the courthouse, a small group of Karim’s supporters could be seen shouting “Free Karim Wade”. Mame Dior Diop, coordinator for Karim’s candidacy for the upcoming presidential election, said his supporters would wage a political campaign for his release.

“We have shown enough restraint in this case. It’s high time we showed what we are capable of,” he said.

Karim Wade during his father’s tenure simultaneously ran several ministries, earning him the nickname “the minister for heaven and earth”.

Sall was swept to power in 2012 amid popular protests against Abdoulaye Wade’s attempts to win a third term in office despite a two-term constitutional limit in a country regarded as West Africa’s most stable democracy. Sall pledged to end what he said was rampant corruption under Wade’s rule.

Diplomats, however, have expressed their concern over the format used by the special graft court that gave the conviction, the court’s format required him to prove his innocence rather than vice versa.

A U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in May also expressed concern over Karim Wade’s lengthy detention before trial and over “irregularities” in the process.

Defense lawyer Baboucar Cisse said the decision came as no surprise and the Supreme Court had ignored the legal arguments put forward by his team.

“Today’s decision strips the legal system of any credibility,” he said. “What happened is not the rule of law.”

Karim Wade, prosecuted and convicted of illegally enriching himself.
Karim Wade, prosecuted and convicted of illegally enriching himself.

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