See also:
» 28.05.2009 - International court rules against Habre’s detention in Senegal
» 25.02.2009 - Appeal court upholds editor’s sentence
» 17.09.2008 - Habre victims file a complain in Senegal
» 14.08.2008 - ICC updates Wade on activities
» 22.05.2008 - CFA 18 billion needed for Habré trial
» 19.05.2008 - Senegal blamed for "flouting" UN decision on Habré trial
» 08.05.2008 - Armed bandits chop off Senegalese villagers' ears
» 09.04.2008 - Senegal legalises Habré trial

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Politics | Society | Media

Publisher jailed for 3 years

afrol News, 15 September - A Senegalese newspaper publisher El Malick Seck has been sentenced to three years imprisonment for allegedly printing false information offending President Abdoulaye Wade.

Mr Seck's newspaper, 24 Heures Chrono, was also banned from publication for three months. His sentence is the latest step in an escalating conflict between Wade's government and independent media, which critics say is damaging West African country's reputation for stable democracy.

Mr Seck was arrested 28 August after his paper printed an article charging that president Wade and his son were involved in laundering money stolen from an Ivory Coast bank. However, Senegalese authorities have said that the article was untrue.

The judge said Mr Seck did not provide sufficient proof to back up his allegations. But Mr Seck maintained in trial that information came from reports that were publicly available.

Editor of 24 Heures Chrono, Sambou Biagui said Mr Seck had been sentenced because the paper put in the open wrongdoings of those who are running the country. "This is a political sentence, El Malick Seck is a political detainee," said Mr Biagui.

The case has come at a time of increasingly tense relations between government and media. Last month, offices of 24 Heures Chrono and another paper, L'As, were ransacked.

Some newspapers accused Farba Senghor, propoganda chief for ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), of complicity in the raids. He hit back, accusing four papers of a "relentless, orchestrated" campaign against him.

In late August he was sacked from his post as transport minister - though government insisted this was to allow him to defend himself against the accusations, rather than an admission of his guilt.

Paris-based press rights group Reporters without Borders has condemned sentence, and called on president Wade to reform Senegal's media laws.

"Not only is the alleged defamation not undone by the condemnation of this journalist to a very heavy sentence, but also the government will find itself with a political prisoner," the Paris-based group said in a statement.

Tensions have been growing in recent months between the press and government in Senegal, with journalists having held demonstrations and marches charging government with trying to intimidate reporters and squash negative coverage.

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