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Journalist Fatou Jaw Manneh's case remains in limbo

(MFWA/IFEX) - The fate of Fatou Jaw Manneh, a US-based Gambian journalist accused of sedition, is uncertain as her case file has gone missing.

On 17 March 2008, when the case was called, the trial magistrate, Buba Jawo, said there was no file before him pertaining to the case. MFWA sources reported the case has since been adjourned indefinitely.

The state counsel, Marley Woods, pleaded with the court for ample time to look for the missing file.

With this development, Manneh remains stranded in The Gambia and she is not able to return to her home in the US, where she had been living for the past decade.

Manneh, a former journalist with the "Daily Observer" newspaper in its early days, has been charged with three counts of sedition, following a series of articles she wrote criticising the regime of President Yahya Jammeh.

Upon her arrival on 28 March 2007 in The Gambia, she was arrested, detained for a week, and her travel documents were confiscated by the authorities.

Since her arrest, Manneh's case has been moving back and forth from one magistrate's court to another. The courts have argued that they lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter because the said articles were published on the Internet. However, on 7 December 2007, a High Court in Banjul ruled that the case could be tried anywhere because of the global nature of the Internet and referred it back to the court where it was first tried, the Kanifing Magistrate Court.

At the last hearing on 11 March, the case was delayed further as Magistrate Jawo failed to show up in court.

MFWA is worried about the seeming delay and lack of seriousness in the matter and calls on the authorities to ensure speedy and fair trial, as justice delayed is justice denied.

Updates the Manneh case:

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