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"Notre Voie" journalists charged for insulting President Ouattara

(MFWA/IFEX) - The Ivorian authorities have announced their intention to imprison three staff members of "Notre Voie," a pro-opposition newspaper, who allegedly insulted President Alassane Ouattara in articles published in the newspaper on November 21, 2011.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the state prosecutor on November 29, 2011 brought bogus charges against César Etou and Boga Sivori, respectively publisher and head of the political desk, and Didier Dépry, the administrator. The charges are "incitement to theft, looting and destruction of the property of others through the press."

The correspondent said it is likely that the three journalists will be found guilty and forced to serve a harsh prison sentence.

The charges against César Etou and Boga Sivori stem from an accusation in the newspaper that President Ouattara had acquired luxury Mercedes Benz cars for himself and his cabinet ministers. In the case of Didier Dépry, the administrator, he was alleged to have claimed, in the same issue, that the country's currency would be devalued in spite of denials by the Central Banks for West and Central Africa.

The correspondent said the detained journalists embarked on a hunger strike on November 28 to protest their detention. They were detained on November 24 and have been moved to the Civil Prison (MACA) in Abidjan.

"The 2004 media law, which forbids the detention of journalists for breaches of press laws, was clearly not taken into account by the Abidjan Public Prosecutor's Office," said a spokesperson for the Cote d'Ivoire National Union of Journalists (UNJCI), which demanded the immediate release of the three journalists in a communiqué issued on November 29.

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