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Ex-press union boss, six others accused of treason and sedition

(MFWA/IFEX) - Ndey Tapha Sosseh, the immediate past President of The Gambian Press Union (GPU), and two other Gambians, were charged, on 19 July 2011, for allegedly distributing materials demanding an end to the authoritarian rule of President Yahya Jammeh, in the ongoing treason trial involving Dr. Amadou Scattered Janneh, a former Minister of Communication, and three others.

At the latest hearing, Sosseh, who now resides in Mali, Mattew K. Jallow, a US-based Gambian writer and Associate Editor of the online newspaper "The Gambian Echo", and Famara Demba were included in the trial at a Special Criminal Court in Banjul, by S. H. Barkun, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution.

All seven accused persons have been charged with four counts relating to treason and sedition. The charges against the seven stem from allegations that they printed and distributed T-shirts for the Gambian Coalition for Change, a political pressure group that is calling for an "End to Dictatorship Now" in The Gambia.

According to the prosecution, Dr. Janneh, Modou Keita, Ebrima Jallow and Michael C. Ucheh Thomas, a Nigerian citizen, conspired with Sosseh, Jallow, Demba, and others still at large, on or around 26 May 2011, to overthrow the Government of The Gambia by unlawful means.

However, Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) sources reported that the former GPU president and the two others would not be tried in absentia, as it contravenes the Gambian Constitution.

The four remanded persons were rounded up on 7 June, and held incommunicado at secret locations. Four days after their arrest, they were brought before the Banjul Magistrate's Court and initially charged with two counts of treason.

The case has been adjourned to 11 October.

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