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Journalists detained for photographing corpses at police station; camera confiscated

(CEMESP/IFEX) - National police in Monrovia, the capital, detained three journalists for photographing the removal of two decomposed human bodies from a police cell on 19 December 2007.

Journalists Jerome Toe of the "Liberia Journal" newspaper, Helroz Zorleh of "Public Agenda" and Emmanuel Mensah of the "National Chronicle" were detained for what the police called a "violation of a crime scene" after the journalists insisted on taking photographs of the bodies.

The police ordered the three journalists arrested and that Mensah's camera be scanned for photographs of the decomposed bodies. Mensah and his colleagues refused to comply, whereupon the police sent for reinforcements. When the reinforcements arrived, the journalists were roughed up, bundled into a police pickup and taken to the police headquarters, where they were detained and the camera confiscated.

They were released upon the intervention of several organisations defending freedom of expression, including CEMESP, the Press Union of Liberia and the Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy. Malcolm Joseph of CEMESP, human rights advocate Aloysius Toe, Peter Quaqua of the Press Union of Liberia and other media practitioners assembled at the police headquarters to inquire into the matter.

After a thorough discussion, police spokesperson Alvin Jask-Kanneh announced that an investigation will be conducted to ascertain the facts regarding the case.

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