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Court issues arrest warrant for radio journalist

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 9 December 2010, Prince William Baffour, a journalist with Yankee Radio, a community-based station in the Jaman North District of the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana, went into hiding after a magistrate's court issued a warrant for his arrest.

Baffour had on 2 December been detained for several hours by the police and charged with "publishing information with the intention to cause fear or harm to the public or to disturb the public peace," under Section 208 of the country's Criminal Code of 1960.

The charge followed the broadcast of an interview with a Ghanaian citizen who was said to have fled the ongoing Ivorian crises. The fleeing man allegedly told Baffour that police were extorting monies from some stranded Ghanaians in Cote d'Ivoire. The interview was relayed on an Accra-based Adom FM radio station.

Baffour was released on bail and told to reappear in court on 9 December.

His lawyer, Nana Obiri Boahen, challenging the charge against his client and told Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) that despite filing a motion in court to set aside the arrest warrant, Baffour is not safe and had to flee to avoid being detained by the police.

Baffour was reportedly detained on the morning of 2 December after he was invited to the premises of the Jaman North District Assembly. He was arrested, handcuffed and processed at the Drobo magistrate court, about 50km from Jaman South.

On 15 December, Isaac Sarpong, general manager of Yankee Radio was assaulted by police officers who stormed the station to prevent the rebroadcasting of the interview which the police claimed was creating fear and panic in the country. Sarpong was slapped several times and his clothes were torn.

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