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Niger23 June 2008

Niamey prosecutor blocks Moussa Kaka’s provisional release

Reporters Without Borders deplores the Niamey public prosecutor’s decision to file an immediate appeal against an investigating judge’s decision today to allow detained journalist Moussa Kaka to be released provisionally. The appeal blocked the release of Kaka, who continues to be held in a Niamey prison.

The director of privately-owned Radio Saraounia and the Niger correspondent of Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, Kaka has been held on a charge of “complicity in a conspiracy against the authority of the state” since 20 September.

“We regret that the public prosecutor’s office has shown that it is bent on keeping Kaka in prison although the judge in charge of the investigation is ready to free him,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This battle of wills has gone on for nine months and could go on even longer if the authorities do not finally agree to relax the pressure on this journalist. The prosecution can continue to prepare its case without Kaka having to be deprived of his freedom.”

The investigating judge today agreed to the request filed by Kaka’s lawyer on 11 June for his provisional release. Kaka would have had to remain at the disposal of the judicial authorities, so that they could question him, if required, for the purposes of the investigation. And he would have had to report all his movements and any change of address to the authorities.

The Niamey public prosecutor had three days to file an appeal against this decision, but he chose to file an appeal immediately. As a result, Kaka remains behind bars.

Kaka was arrested for talking by phone with one of the leaders of Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), a Tuareg rebel group based in the north of the country. The authorities claim that these contacts were evidence that he was “conniving” with the rebels. The charge carries a possible life sentence.

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