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IFJ calls for transparency in case of arrested journalist

(IFJ/IFEX) - December 13, 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on the police in the western Indian city of Mumbai to reveal full details of the grounds on which senior journalist Jigna Vora was arrested on charges of conspiracy, murder and involvement in organised crime.

Vora, deputy bureau chief in Mumbai with Asian Age, was arrested on November 25 on charges of involvement in the June 11 murder of senior investigative journalist Jyotirmoy Dey. Her arrest came just days before ten other individuals detained in connection with the murder were formally charged.

Vora was produced before a special court dealing with prosecution of organised crime cases in Mumbai on November 26 and was since remanded to police custody. She was transferred to judicial custody on December 9. Formal charges are yet to be made against her.

The charge sheet against twelve other suspects in the murder, including two who have evaded arrest so far, was filed on December 3. Mumbai police have sought a December 20 deadline to complete investigations against Vora and bring formal charges against her.

Analysts point out that the nature of the evidence against Vora has never been fully explained by Mumbai police. There have been several, often contradictory, indications of how she was involved with organised crime syndicates in Mumbai and abroad, but no suggestion of a credible motive for her involvement in Dey's murder.

Asian Age issued a formal statement shortly after her arrest, defending her integrity and vowing to stand by her. The resident editor of the newspaper in Mumbai, Hussain Zaidi, later resigned from his post as a gesture of solidarity with his detained colleague.

"The IFJ calls on the Mumbai police to follow a policy of transparency in this matter involving a senior journalist," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"The strategy of selectively leaking information and fuelling media speculation could cause serious damage to journalistic morale, as well as the credibility of the profession.

"We urge Vora's newspaper and colleagues to ensure the highest level of scrutiny over the investigation and prosecution so that she is afforded every reasonable opportunity to clear her name."

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