- A regional court has declared the continued arrest and detention of journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh illegal and ordered Gambian authorities to "immediately release him." The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also ordered The Gambia government to pay US $100,000 as damages to Mr Manneh.
Mr Manneh, a reporter of the pro-government Daily Observer newspaper, was arrested by the state security agents in his office on 7 July 2006. Manneh had been moved from one police station to another, but the government consistently denied any knowledge of his whereabouts, and even refused to defend itself at the Abuja court.
The Accra-based Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) that filed the case on behalf of Manneh, welcomes the court's decision. "We therefore call on The Gambia to respect and enforce the judgment in accordance with laid down procedures," said Kwame Kari Kari, MFWA Executive Director.
The Gambian government was sued for illegal arrest and subsequent disappearance of Manneh.
The ECOWAS court had earlier heard testimonies from witnesses who all confirmed the journalist's arrest and subsequent detention, with one of the witnesses admitting to have seen Manneh at an upcountry detention camp.
The testimonies followed the final submission of the defence lawyer, Femi Falana.
Manneh was last spotted at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul on 26 July where he was hospitalized for high blood pressure.
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