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Sports journalist in court after hosting aggrieved golf workers on his programme

(MFWA/IFEX) - 30 March 2011 - On 31 March, the Kanifing District Magistrate Court will continue with the criminal trial of Bakary B. Baldeh, a sports producer and presenter of West Coast Radio, a privately-owned FM station, over an 11 February sports programme that the Gambian authorities claimed was criminal and meant to incite violence among Gambians.

This will be the third time that Baldeh will appear before the court to answer charges of "conspiracy to commit felony", and a "conspiracy" to incite violence. The charges stemmed from the presenter's hosting of two aggrieved golf workers who had accused Ebrima Jawara, President of the Gambia Golfers Association and the son of former President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, of unfair treatment during a recent national golf tournament in the country. The tournament was sponsored by President Yahya Jammeh. Baldeh has since pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

On 25 March, the pro-government Banjul-based "The Daily Observer" newspaper reported on its website that Baldeh is being tried as a result of an alleged complaint filed by Ebrima Jawara. However, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sources in the Gambia said that that was not the case and that Jawara has denied that he initiated the action.

Baldeh was arrested on 23 March after being invited to the Karaiba police station in the Kanifing Municipality, in the northern part of Banjul, together with the station's proprietor, Peter Gomez. While Gomez was released after a brief interrogation, Baldeh was illegally detained for three days. He was released on 25 March after making his first appearance in court.

Meanwhile, Baldeh has decided to temporarily suspend his programme until his ordeal is over, according to "The Daily Observer".

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