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Three newspaper editors face criminal defamation charges

(MFWA/IFEX) - Three managing editors of privately-owned newspapers in Lome, the capital of Togo, will once again appear before a Magistrate Court on June 9, 2010 over criminal charges relating to "false publication" and "criminal defamation".

The journalists, Zeus K. Aziadouvo of "Liberté", Jean-Baptiste K. D. Dzilan of "Forum de la Semaine" and Glakpé K. Olivier of the "Journal Le Correcteur", were arraigned on May 19. They have since made two appearances in court.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent reported that the trial of the editors followed a complaint filed by the country's Inspector General of Police (IGP) over a May 8 publication that the editors carried in their respective newspapers. The newspapers had blamed two policemen of the motor traffic unit for allegedly causing the deaths of a commercial motorcycle driver and his female passenger, after the driver had committed an offence by running a traffic light.

MFWA's correspondent said the newspapers quoted unnamed eyewitnesses who accused the police of pushing the driver off a moving bike, resulting in his death as well as that of the female passenger.

The police have since denied the accounts of the newspapers' sources. They claim the man died as a result of speeding which resulted in him hitting his head against a pole. As far as the woman passenger is concerned, the police said she was recovering from shock.

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