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Court frees detained pro-opposition journalists

(MFWA/IFEX) - A criminal court in Abidjan, the capital of Cote d'Ivoire, on December 6, 2011 dismissed criminal charges brought against three staff members of the pro-opposition "Notre Voie" newspaper accused of insulting President Alassane Ouattara in articles published in the newspaper on November 21, 2011.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that an hour into the trial, the court, presided over by Yao Kouame Phillipe, acquitted César Etou and Boga Sivori, publisher and political desk chief, respectively, and Didier Dépry, the administrator, for "lack of evidence".

The correspondent said the three were tried on new charges of "violating the press laws" after the Public Prosecutor's Department amended the earlier charges of "incitement to theft, looting and destruction of the property of others through the press."

The Judge also rejected the FCFA 400,000 (about US$ 803) damages claim sought by Deputy Public Prosecutor N'guessan Desire against the journalists.

The three were arrested and detained on November 24 on the instruction of the Public Prosecutor, Simplice Kouadio Koffi, after "Notre Voie" reported on the purchase of luxury vehicles by President Ouattara for members of his cabinet and the probable devaluation of the CFA franc.

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