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Chad16 September 2005

Appeal court rejects provisional release for Sy Koumbo Singa Gali and Michael Didama

The N’Djamena appeal court on 15 September denied requests for the provisional release of L’Observateur managing editor Sy Koumbo Singa Gali and Le Temps editor Michael Didama. The appeals against their convictions and the conviction of L’Observateur editorial coordinator Samory Ngaradoumbé will be heard on 22 September.

09. 09. 05 Ngaradoumbé freed pending appeal hearing in "encouraging" development

Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the N’Djaména appeal court’s decision yesterday to provisionally release Samory Ngaradoumbé, the editorial coordinator of the privately-owned weekly L’Observateur, pending an appeal hearing on 22 September. He had been serving a three-month prison sentence since 18 July.

"It is an encouraging sign to see Samory Ngaradoumbé walk out of prison, even if we have had to wait nearly two months for it," the press freedom organisation said. "The court granted him the right to remain free until his appeal hearing, a right that should be accorded to all of the journalists imprisoned in Chad."

Reporters Without Borders added: "We cannot be entirely satisfied until the other three journalists serving heavy prison sentences are set free. And then it will be time for the Chadian authorities and the privately-owned press to pick up the thread of dialogue that was severed so abruptly this summer."

At the same time that the appeal court granted the provisional release request submitted by Samory Ngaradoumbé’s lawyers, it rejected a similar request for the release of Garondé Djarma, a freelance journalist and columnist for L’Observateur, and said it would be "premature" to rule on requests for the release of Sy Koumbo Singa Gali, the managing editor of L’Observateur, and Michaël Didama, the editor of the privately-owned weekly Le Temps.

The court said it would rule on release requests for Sy Koumbo Singa Gali and Michaël Didama at a hearing on 15 September. Garondé Djarma, Sy Koumbo Singa Gali and Michaël Didama are serving prison terms ranging from six months to four years for libel and "inciting hate."

Samory Ngaradoumbé was sentenced on 18 July by a lower court in N’Djaména to three months in prison and a fine of 100,000 CFA francs (152 euros) for "lying comments and inciting hate" because the weekly’s 15 June issue contained an open letter to President Idriss Déby from young members of the Kréda ethnic group describing the president’s associates as "untouchables" who "kidnap, rape and assault our daughters, sisters and wives and then toss them aside like used objects."

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