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Jailed editor El Malick Seck again convicted of defaming top Senegalese officials

(MFWA/IFEX) - For the third time in four months, El Malick Seck, managing editor of "24 Heures Chrono", a privately-owned, Dakar-based newspaper, has been convicted of defaming top Senegalese government officials.

On September 12, 2008, Seck was handed a three-year prison term for defaming President Abdoulaye Wade and his son. The "24 Heures Chrono" newspaper was also suspended for three months for the same offence. The newspaper is now back on the newsstands.

On December 23, 2008, Seck was handed another six-month term for defaming Interior Minister Sheikh Tidiane Sy. In addition to the sentence, the editor has been ordered to pay a fine of FCFA 250,000 (approx. US$560), as well as FCFA 20 million (approx. US$66,600) in damages to the minister.

This latest conviction follows the publication of an article in the July 14, 2008 edition of the paper, alleging that Sy was involved in the murder of a French judge in Djibouti. The publication claimed that a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) document confirmed that Sy had worked for assassins in Washington.

In another defamation case, this time brought against Seck and "24 Heures Chrono" reporter Maké Dagnokho by the Ministry of Culture's secretary general, Pape Massène Sène, the two were sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term and each fined FCFA 250,000. Sène was awarded FCFA 20 million in damages.

MFWA is concerned about these outrageous sentences and heavy fines imposed on journalists and the media in Senegal. These rulings have the tendency of undermining media freedom. MFWA is fervently appealing to the Senegalese authorities to repeal all repressive laws on the statute books.

Updates the Seck case:

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