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Comoros27 March 2006

Editor spends week-end in prison under police pressure to reveal sources

Reporters sans frontières has condemned the 54-hour detention of Aboubacar Mchangama, editor of the private weekly L’Archipel by the Moroni police force, arrested for publishing two articles expressing dissatisfaction within the army.

Aboubacar Mchangama, president of the Comorian Print Media Organization (l’Organisation comorienne de la presse écrite, OCPE), was taken into custody on 25 March 2006 at approximately 9:00 a.m. (local time) by a judicial brigade of the Moroni police force and immediately placed in detention. The legal time limit for any person to be held in detention in Comoros is 24 hours, which is renewable only once.

Several army officers filed a complaint with the L’Archipel editor following the 8 February publication of an article that stated that there were rumblings of discontent over the promotion to commander of three officers on the basis of friendships, according to the newspaper’s sources.

Then, on 15 March, the newspaper reported that the officers who had expressed their discontent over the promotions had received disciplinary action. These officers then blamed the journalists for the sanctions inflicted upon them.

Unconfirmed local sources indicated that the journalist was arrested for "moral and material prejudice". Before being placed in detention, Aboubacar Mchangama had already been interrogated by officials under the guise of "an internal investigation".

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