Dakar, Mar 30 (AFP) Leading Senegalese politician Khalifa Sall was handed a five-year jail term for fraud today, a sentence that will rule him out of presidential elections due next February.

Sall, 62, who is mayor of Dakar, had denied the charges against him as politically motivated.

He had been accused of fraudulent use of public funds, for which he was also fined five million CFA francs (7,625 euros).

He was found not guilty on charges of criminal conspiracy, money laundering and misappropriating public funds.

Prosecutors had sought a seven-year prison term and a fine worth nearly USD 10 million (more than eight million euros). Sall was tried along with his financial director, Mbaye Toure, who was given the same sentences.

“We are going to file an appeal, obviously,” one of Sall’s lawyers, Cheikh Khouraissi Ba, told AFP.

The trial had been avidly followed in Senegal since the start of the year, throwing a spotlight on Sall’s high popularity and stirring debate over next year’s elections if he were to be convicted.

Sall represents a growing challenge to incumbent President Macky Sall, who shares the same name but is not a relation.

Supporters of the mayor protested loudly in the packed courtroom when the verdict was announced and police were deployed around the building. (AFP) ABH ABH

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.