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Two Radio Fahazavana journalists detained over alleged involvement in mutiny

(RSF/IFEX) - On 27 January 2010, a court rejected the bail application made by Didier Ravoahangison, director/manager of the private station Radio Fahazavana, and Lolo Ratsimba, host of the programme "Ampenjiky". Accused of involvement in "acts of political destabilisation," the two journalists have been detained in Antanimora prison since 8 January.

Radio Fahazavana is owned by the protestant reform church FJKM, which has close ties with ousted president Marc Ravalomanana.

"We call for a quick start to a fair trial. If the trial does not prove the guilt of the two journalists, they should logically be released," Reporters Without Borders stated.

The two journalists were detained for their alleged complicity in a 29 December 2009 attempted mutiny of the Support and Information Regiment (Régiment d'Appui et de Renseignement, RAS) in Ampahibe, near the Ministry of Armed Forces headquarters.

They were placed in custody after being questioned by the Investigation department of Fiadanana and after appearing before the senior judge of the Anosy court. A third journalist, Jaona Raoly, was also questioned, but was released immediately after.

The case has prompted mixed reactions in Antananarivo and in the Madagascan press. Ratsimba's supporters say he was only doing his job by being the first journalist at the scene to interview the leader of the mutineers, warrant officer Daniel Ratsimihafindramanana. According to supporters, the charge against Ravoahangison relates to having authorised the dissemination of information on the rebellion.

According to other sources contacted by RSF, Ratsimba was actually complicit in the attempted mutiny, having provided a sum of money to the rebels. A few days after the incident, the newspaper "Taratra" stated that "evidence" ("porofo" in Malagasy) of Ratsimba's involvement had been found. According to Minister of Communication Nathalie Rabe, quoted on the Madonline.com website, the charge is related to "threatening state security" rather than information dissemination.

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