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"The Point" newspaper office stormed by police; editor Pape Saine charged with "obtaining Gambian citizenship registration by false pretence" in a separate incident

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 20 February 2009, three police officers stormed the offices of the privately-owned "The Point" newspaper in Banjul and briefly detained all staff members present.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s sources reported that for about 35 minutes the police officers, led by Inspector Kebba Fadera, attempted to force the reporters to disclose their sources of information. The sources said the police visited the newspaper's offices on three occasions on the same day. Pape Saine, co-publisher and editor of the paper, was not in the office at the time of the visit.

On 24 February, Saine was arraigned before a Magistrates Court in Banjul on another criminal charge relating to his nationality. He has been charged with two counts of "obtaining Gambian citizenship registration by false pretence" and "obtaining a Gambian passport by false pretence."

The court, presided over by Lamin George, has since granted Saine bail in the sum of 10,000 Gambian Dalasis (approx. US$385) and two sureties. He has also been ordered to report to the police every Friday.

According to the prosecution, Saine committed the offences in 1994 and 1997 by illegally acquiring a birth certificate and a passport. Saine has, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges. He was to appear in court on 25 February but his trial has now been adjourned until 11 March.

Saine is also facing charges of "publishing false information" over a 30 January story about the arrest and detention of a Gambian diplomat at Mile 2 Prison.

Updates the Saine case:

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