Senegal Releases Influential Religious Leader Charged in Disciples’ Murder

[All links forward to websites in French unless otherwise stated]

Accusations of injustice are flying after a Senegal court granted provisional release to Islamic leader Cheikh Bethio Thioune, a once privileged presidential ally in the predominantly Muslim country who was arrested in April 2012 on charges of ordering his followers to beat two men to death.

Thioune's release on February 27 came a few days after the sheik traveled to France for medical care. Senegal's Minister of Justice Aminata Touré said in a press release that once Thioune returns from France, he must surrender his passport to a magistrate, is barred from organizing or attending meetings and public gatherings, and cannot make statements about the legal proceedings he is facing.

An influential dignitary of the Islamic Mouride brotherhood [en] who backed former President Abdoulaye Wade‘s failed bid for reelection last year, Thioune has remained locked up in prison [en] since his arrest in connection with the murder [en] of two of his disciples, Ababacar Diagne and Bara Sow, allegedly over a dispute at the sheik's home. The case against him has touched off at times violent protests [en] among his supporters.

Global Voices author Marc-André Boisvert speaks about Thioune's involvement during Senegal's 2012 presidential elections in the YouTube video below:

The decision to release Thioune sparked outrage among some Senegalese who feared the move signaled that the government under President Macky Sall [en] wasn't committed to prosecuting previously untouchable figures, people such as Thioune who maintained a large amount of influence in Senegal's political arena.

On the Facebook page Réhabilitons notre Sénégal (Let's rehabilitate Senegal), user Tall Janneh discussed the hypocrisy of the release:

Sacré pays le Sénégal, car un citoyen qui se nomme Béthio Thioune sur lequel pèse 5 chefs d'accusation: “Association de malfaiteurs, détention d’armes sans autorisation, inhumation de cadavres sans autorisation, recel de cadavres et complicité d’homicide” vient de bénéficier d'une liberté provisoire alors que des citoyens avec des faits moins graves se sont vus refuser la liberté provisoire

Good ole Senegal, a country where a citizen named Bethio Thioune who is charged on five counts of  “conspiracy, possession of weapons without authorization, burial of corpses without permission, concealing corpses and accessory to murder” was granted release while people with milder offenses were denied.

He pointed out:

Et cette liberté provisoire fait suite à une “autorisation médicale” d'aller se soigner en France. Alors je me demande s'il n’y avait pas un deal entre la Ministre de la Justice et Béthio  ?

And this provisional release is granted after a “medical clearance” was issued so he can be treated in France. So it begs the question, was there a deal in place between the minister of justice and Bethio ?

Presumably in jest, Ibrahima Datte commented afterward:

c’est le Sénégal qui gagne.

This is Senegal winning.

But Tall Janneh responded quickly, asking:

Que gagne le Sénégal dans cette parodie de justice ?

What exactly is Senegal winning in this parody of justice?

David El Bachir Diallo added:

 Ce qui nous intéresse, c’est la suite.  les Sénégalais ont déjà constaté, dénoncé et renvoyé l’ancien régime, par conséquent, fait-il, quelle est la suite juridique que ce nouveau régime va donner au combat déjà mené par le peuple sénégalais ?  Les sénégalais attendent des actes forts contre l’impunité.

What concerns us is the aftermath: the Senegalese people have already put on notice, reported and dismissed the old regime, therefore, what legal proceedings will the new regime choose to undertake after the Senegalese citizens have showed them the way? Senegalese expect strong action against impunity.

Dame Ndiaye was convinced that Thioune's release was part of a deal:

c’est un deal. On a tout compris.

It is a deal. Everyone knows it.

With a great deal of irony, Mohamed Coulibaly went after the judge who made this decision to release Thioune:

Le juge aurait dû au moins revoir les chefs d’inculpation et enlever le crime d’association de malfaiteurs car il est aberrant d’en être poursuivi et être libre même pour une heure de temps. La république est en train de foutre le camp car notre président n’est pas à la hauteur des charges républicaines, preuve pour laquelle il traîne les pieds depuis un an. Un président doit avoir la rigueur et la vigueur pour ne pas flancher, mais cela n’est pas la règle de ce président qui avait tout planifié pour cette mascarade juridique sur le dossier Béthio.

The judge should have at least reviewed the charges and removed the allegation of criminal conspiracy because it is absurd to be charged and then be freed. The republic is now going down the drain because our president is not up to the task as seen in the way that he's been dragging his feet for over a year. A president must have the strength and discipline to persevere but it is not in this president's make-up. He had planned for this Thioune juridical masquerade all along.

Tall Janneh imagined that Thioune's provisional release may become permanent:

 Ne soyons pas surpris si Béthio bénéficie d’une liberté totale car la justice peut être aveugle. Le cas de O.J Simpson en est un exemple patent.

Do not be surprised if Bethio is completely free soon as justice can be blinded. The O.J. Simpson case is an obvious example.

AL Diouf was even more fierce in his condemnation of the release:

Foutaises. Rien à attendre de ce régime de fourbes dissimulateurs ! Nous avons déjà beaucoup passé à ces adeptes de l’esbroufe. Mais nous applaudissons des pécadilles  d’effets d’annonce, alors tous les actes posés par la mackysphère allaient à l’encontre du droit et/ou de la morale et surtout de l’intérêt des populations. Il ne nous reste plus qu’à ériger des murs des lamentations partout dans le pays, ça pourrait soulager.

Bollocks. You can't expect anything else from this secretive deceitful regime ! We have already let a lot go with these corrupt men. But we applaud the trifle announcement even though all the actions of the president's entourage went against the law and/or ethics and especially against the interest of the people. We're only left to build walls of laments everywhere in the country, only that could relieve us at this point.


1 comment

  • If the son of Jean Paul Diaz has not done any time in jail so can Bethio Thioune be fred!

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