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Côte d’Ivoire1 April 2009

Judge frees Le Repère journalist but imposes heavy fine on him and his editor

Abidjan judge Koné Aissata yesterday ordered journalist Nanankoua Gnamanteh’s release but fined him 20 millions CFA francs (30,000 euros) on a charge of insulting President Laurent Gbagbo. He had been facing a possible two-year prison sentence.

Opinion section editor and ombudsman at Le Réveil, a company that publishes the daily Le Nouveau Réveil and the weekly Le Repère, Gnamanteh was convicted for an article that appeared in Le Repère on 6 March under the headline “Ali Baba and his 40 thieves” together with a photo of President Gbagbo and several of his close associates.

The court imposed the same fine on Le Repère managing editor Eddy Péhé and suspended the newspaper for eight weeks.

Arrested on 19 March, Gnamanteh had appeared before the Abidjan-Plateau court for the first time on 24 March.


25.03.2009 - Journalist facing two-year jail sentence for “insulting” President Gbagbo

Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of journalist Nanankoua Gnamanteh, who has been held in Abidjan central prison since 19 March at the behest of the state prosecutor. When he appeared in court yesterday on a charge of insulting the president, the prosecutor requested a two-year prison sentence. A verdict is due on 31 March.

“Do we have to remind the authorities that press offences have been decriminalised in Côte d’Ivoire?” Reporters Without Borders said. “This journalist’s detention is therefore both incomprehensible and illegal. Regardless of what he wrote, Gnamanteh should not be in jail. If an offence was committed, it should be redressed by means that are most just and effective than imprisonment.”

Opinion section editor and ombudsman at Le Réveil, a company that publishes the daily Le Nouveau Réveil and the weekly Le Repère, Gnamanteh was brought before an Abidjan court at midday yesterday on a charge of insulting President Laurent Gbagbo in an article that appeared in Le Repère on 6 March under the headline “Ali Baba and his 40 thieves” together with a photo of the president and several of his close associates.

The article referred to Gbagbo’s period as president as “nine years of political fraud (...) outright theft, embezzlement and kleptomania at the summit of the state.”

The prosecutor also asked the court to suspend Le Repère for eight months and to fine its publisher, Eddy Péhé, 10 million CFA francs (15,200 euros). Péhé was summoned for questioning on 19 March but was released the same day.

A former philosophy professor, Gnamanteh has been working for Le Réveil since 2005.



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