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Niger19 August 2008

Authorities urged to abandon “absurd war” against Moussa Kaka after court blocks provisional release

Reporters Without Borders is dismayed by the obstinacy with which Niger’s authorities are keeping journalist Moussa Kaka in prison, despite a judge’s decision to dismiss the case against him. At the request of the prosecutor’s office, a Niamey appeal court today overturned a ruling issued by an investigating judge in June for Kaka’s provisional release.

“It is now clear that every possible subterfuge and procedural manoeuvre will be used to keep Kaka in prison even though the investigating judge decided there are no grounds for prosecuting him,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This persistence has reached unbelievable proportions and is indicative of the personal war that President Mamadou Tandja is waging against this journalist.”

The press freedom organisation added : “We nonetheless think that Niger’s judicial system has taken a clear position and that our correspondent has no business being in Niamey prison. Respect for judicial independence should force the authorities to put a stop to this absurd war against one man.”

In today’s decision, a Niamey appeal court ruled in favour of the public prosecutor’s appeal against Kaka’s provisional release, which the investigating judge in charge of the case approved on 23 June subject to Kaka undertaking to remain available for questioning and to report any travel plans or change of address.

Kaka was not freed because the public prosecutor immediately filed an appeal, which had the effect of postponing his release pending the outcome of the appeal procedure. The public prosecutor also immediately appealed against a decision by the investigating judge one month later, on 23 July, to drop all the charges against Kaka.

The director of privately-owned Radio Saraounia and Niger correspondent of Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, Kaka was arrested in Niamey on 20 September 2007 on a charge “complicity in a conspiracy against state authority.”

The public prosecutor claimed that his phone calls with one of the leaders of the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), a Tuareg rebel group based in the north of the country, were evidence that he was “conniving” with the rebels. The charge carries a possible life sentence.

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