Dakar, Senegal (AFP):
A Senegalese court on Tuesday resumed the trial of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko on rape charges, but he failed for the second time running to attend the high-stakes proceedings.
Police in the capital Dakar placed a security cordon around the courtroom, fearing a resurgence of clashes triggered by the case.
Highly popular among young people, Sonko has branded the trial a political plot aimed at scuttling his bid for the 2024 presidency.
He has been charged with rape and making death threats against an employee of a beauty salon in Dakar.
Sonko, 48, said he went to the salon for a massage for chronic back pain and denies any assault.
His trial opened on May 16 but was immediately adjourned until May 23 after he failed to attend.
On Friday he demanded guarantees for his safety as a condition for attending the trial.
“If all the (security) conditions are met, I will be there,” he said.
Sonko is believed to be in the southern city of Ziguinchor, several hundred kilometres (miles) from Dakar, where he is mayor.