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Newspaper stops covering gun-probe inquiry due to media restrictions

(PINA/IFEX) - Samoa's only daily newspaper, the "Samoa Observer", has decided to stop covering a Commission of Inquiry into alleged gun smuggling because of media restrictions.

The inquiry is looking at the alleged involvement of Samoa's Police Commissioner and crew members of the police patrol boat MV Nafanua, as well as the Customs office.

The alleged smuggling of guns from American Samoa to Samoa took place in April 2008.

"Samoa Observer"'s editor, Mata'afa Keni Ramese Lesa, says the restrictions set for the local and international media by the commission is a violation of the media's freedom to report freely on the public inquiry.

The editor is also calling on the local Journalist Association of Samoa to do something about the alleged breach by the commission of free press in Samoa.

However, some journalists covering the inquiry say crucial information from witnesses related to the smuggling of weapons aboard the MV Nafanua, is starting to appear in daily releases prepared by the legal team and endorsed by the commission.

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