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Six pro-Ouattara dailies probed over electoral crisis coverage

(MFWA/IFEX) - 22 February 2011 - Officers with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ivorian Police have begun grilling editors and journalists of six pro-Ouattara daily newspapers over their news reports in the wake of the political crises in the country.

In a February 14 letter signed by the Director of the CID, the editors were asked to appear before Raymond Tchimou Féhou, the State Prosecutor at the Plateau Magistrate's court, on February 18 as part of an on-going enquiry.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent in Cote d'Ivoire reported that representatives from the newspapers, "Le Nouveau Réveil", "Le Patriote", "Nord-Sud Quotidien", "Le Mandat", "La Démocratie" and "Le Jour Plus", have since appeared before the Deputy Public Prosecutor, Diakité Mamadou, who questioned them for several hours. No charges have yet been brought against any of the journalists but they are expected to appear in court later this week.

The correspondent said the journalists were interrogated in the presence of their lawyers on a wide range of articles they had published on the post-election crisis in the country. Some of the questions that were put to the editors and journalists were: "Who is the current President of Cote d'Ivoire?", "Why did you enthusiastically announce the arrival of ECOMOG in Cote d'Ivoire?" and "Why do you refer to Gbagbo as 'Mr. Gbagbo' and Alassane Ouattara as 'President Ouattara'?"

The MFWA correspondent said they were accused of "inciting the public to civil disobedience", "insubordination with regard to the authority of the State", "incitement to violence", "insult to the President of the Republic and Institutions", "incitement to civil and religious confrontation" and "dissemination of information considered to be 'top secret'".

The newspapers risk closure if found guilty of the charges, according to new regulations issued by the pro-Gbagbo Advisory Body of the National Media Council (CNP) inaugurated on February 9.

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