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Newspaper editor Boussada Ben Ali still detained after court adjourns case

(MFWA/IFEX) - Boussada Ben Ali, managing editor of "L'Action", an independent Niamey-based newspaper will continue to stay in detention until the Niamey Tribunal court hears his case on 2 February 2009.

Boussada is being tried for allegedly "disseminating false information".

Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the court could not sit on 27 January 2009 because the country's state prosecutor requested more time to check the status of another defamation case filed by a former minister against Boussada.

In November 2007, Boussada was sentenced to a two-month suspended prison term for defaming Rhissa Ag Boula, then a minister of state. In that case "L'Action" reported that Rhissa was involved in the activities of the Movement for Justice (MNJ), a Tuoareg movement which waged a rebellion in the northern part of the country two years ago. The editor appealed the sentence.

The MFWA's correspondent said in 2008, that Rhissa, now in exile in France after confessing his involvement with the MNJ, was accused of murder and was subsequently sentenced to death in absentia.

Boussada was arrested on 23 January 2009 and detained by the police for questioning the manner in which a contract was awarded by the Minister of finance and economic planning, Mahamane Ali Lamine Zeine. He alleged that the minister had diverted part of FCFA127 billion (approx.US$256.5 million) from an oil agreement between Niger and China.

Updates the Ben Ali case:

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