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Politician has Congolese journalists jailed over defamation claim

UPDATE: Two journalists released after nine days in detention (JED, 6 December 2012)

(JED/IFEX) – 4 December 2012 - Journalist in Danger (JED) is outraged by the detention of two journalists in the main prison in Bandundu, capital of the southwestern province of the same name. Dadou Etiom of Nzondo TV, a privately-owned station based in Bandundu, and Guy Ngiaba, the local correspondent of Kinshasa-based Télé 50 have been held for over a week.

JED has learned that Bandundu prosecutors jailed Etiom and Ngiaba on 27 November after bringing them face to face with provincial assembly president Boniface Ntwa, who has accused them of “detrimental allegations.”

Etiom hosted a programme called “Referendum” on 2 November in which Ngiaba participated. During the programme, the two journalists criticized Ntwa's management of the provincial assembly and accused him of not wanting to hold a plenary session for fear of a no-confidence vote.

Ntwa told JED he filed an official complaint about the programme with the provincial coordinator of the media regulator CSAC and sent a copy of his complaint to the state prosecutor.

“In their programme, the two journalists criticized the provincial assembly bureau's management and went so far as to give a date when this bureau would be removed,” Ntwa said. “This constitutes manipulation and disinformation. The prosecutor's office conducted an investigation after viewing a recording of the offending programme.”

JED strongly condemns this blatant misuse of the judicial system by a public office holder and calls on the province's judicial authorities to release the two journalists as they have a right to be presumed innocent pending the outcome of the proceedings against them.
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