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Togo10 October 2005

Thugs beat up opposition weekly editor on Lomé street

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about a physical attack on Jean-Baptiste Dzilan, (also known as Dimas Dzikodo), the editor of the opposition weekly Forum de la Semaine, who was badly beaten by unidentified individuals last night in Lomé.

“The Togolese police should be alarmed that a newspaper editor received a severe beating in the middle of a Lomé street,” the press freedom organisation said.

“For the sake of maintaining public order, we call for every effort to be made to find and punish the perpetrators,” Reporters Without Borders added, “otherwise, given the still volatile political situation in Togo, the attack on Dzikodo could encourage everyone with a score to settle with the press.”

Dzikodo, 31, was driving on a motorcycle with one of his brothers towards the northern neighbourhood of Gbonvié at around 10 p.m. when they were intercepted by two men on another motor-cycle, which made his brother fall off. Then two other men on a third motor-cycle knocked Dzikodo’s motor-cycle over and all four assailants began beating Dzikodo with clubs.

A car with six men aboard then arrived, at which point Dzikodo tried to escape, he told Reporters Without Borders today. However, they caught up with him, sprayed him with an as yet unidentified liquid from an aerosol can, and tried to make him swallow a liquid, which he managed to spit out. When local residents responded to his cries for help, the assailants finally fled, taking his computer’s USB jump drive with them. Dzikodo is now receiving treatment in a clinic.

“Their intention was to eliminate me, they were aiming their blows at my head,” Dzikodo told Reporters Without Borders. Communication minister Kokou Tozoun, who is also the government spokesman, condemned the attack. “We do not need this kind of action at this time of widespread jubilation, which is leading us to reconciliation,” he told Reporters Without Borders while visiting Dzikodo.

Forum de la Semaine is a tabloid that has been very critical of the current government. Dzikodo, who is also secretary-general of the Organisation of Independent Press Editors (OREPI), has received death threats in the past and was detained several times under the previous government led by the late Gen. Gnassingbé Eyadéma.

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