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Court exonerates sports presenter in criminal suit

(MFWA/IFEX) - 28 May 2011 - On 24 May 2011, the Kanifing District Magistrate Court exonerated Bakary B. Baldeh, a sports producer and presenter for West Coast Radio, a privately-owned FM station, on a criminal charge allegedly brought against him and four others, by Ebrima Jawara, president of the Gambia Golfers Association, and the son of former President, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.

The other accused persons, all golf workers, had been charged with "conspiracy to commit felony". Earlier, the court had dismissed another charge of "conspiracy to incite violence".

Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) sources reported that the court decision followed an application to that effect by their counsels on the ground that the charge of "conspiracy to commit felony" laid against them, was not known in law.

However, three of the accused persons will still appear before the court on another criminal charge relating to breach of the country's peace.

They were arraigned before the court on 25 March after being detained for three days at Kairaba police station. Their arrest and subsequent detention took place after Baldeh had hosted on his radio programme two of the golf workers, who had accused Jawara of unfair treatment during the Baby Mariama Yayha Jammeh Golf Competition in February. The tournament was sponsored by President Yahya Jammeh in honour of his daughter.

According to the state prosecutor, the accused persons had "jointly and unlawfully made statements through the West Coast Radio" to incite people to boycott the tournament.

On 25 March, the pro-government Banjul-based newspaper "The Daily Observer" twisted the facts of the case by erroneously reporting on its website that Baldeh and the rest were being tried as a result of an alleged complaint filed by Jawara, who earlier testified as a prosecution witness. However, MFWA sources in the Gambia said that that was not the case and that Jawara had denied that he initiated the action.

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