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State agents fail to appear before regional court investigating journalist's arrest

(MFWA/IFEX) - Five state agents of The Gambia, who were summoned by the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in Abuja, Nigeria in the ongoing case of a "disappeared" Gambian journalist on March 11, 2008, defied the court's order and failed to make an appearance.

The security agents had been invited by the court to clear themselves of their alleged involvement in the arrest and subsequent detention of Chief Ebrima Manneh, a former reporter of the pro-government Banjul-based "Daily Observer" newspaper.

The court therefore had no option other than to fix June 5, 2008 as the day it will deliver its judgment.

The security agents, three military personnel and two police officers, had been mentioned earlier by witnesses for contributing to the arrest and detention of Manneh.

In 2007, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) brought legal action for the sub-regional court to compel The Gambian government to unconditionally release the journalist.

The Gambian government has consistently refused to cooperate with the court.

On July 7, 2006, Manneh's colleagues witnessed his arrest at the "Daily Observer" premises. He has since been sighted in the custody of state security personnel, but the government has denied ever arresting him.

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