- A regional court in The Gambia refused to discharge and acquit a journalist of the closed-down private newspaper, 'The Independent', despite its earlier promises to do so. Having being incarcerated for 63 days in horrendous conditions, Lamin Fatty was released in June and charged with publishing false news, contrary to the laws of The Gambia. He has denied the charges.
Principal Magistrate Kebba Sanyang had earlier vowed to strike out Mr Fatty's case if the prosecution witness, Malamin Ceesay - who was said to have travelled to the United Kingdom - did not appear in court on 25 October. But he is yet to honour his promise, as the case has been adjourned twice mainly because of the absence of prosecution witnesses.
In the previous court sitting, Magistrate Sanyang asked the prosecution not to waste the court's precious time if they were not ready to defend their case beyond reasonable doubts. However, it is now apparent that the court has slanted its statement because the case was adjourned again today. This time the prosecution was absent from the court.
In today's sitting, the attorney for journalist Fatty, Lamin Camara drew the attention of the court to its earlier statement. While pushing for the case to be struck out, lawyer Camara reminded the presiding magistrate that a delay in justice delivery means denial of justice.
Mr Camara said it was common knowledge that the case has gathered pace and must not therefore continue in the interest of upholding justice.
Deviating from his earlier statement, Magistrate Sanyang, who is believed to have been confronted by Gambian authorities not to free Mr Fatty, overruled the application of the defence lawyer. He adjourned the case to 20 November without further explanation.
On 9 October, the High Court acquitted a former journalist of the pro-government newspaper, 'Daily Observer', after he had been illegally detained for 139 days, which were punctuated with tortures. Malick Mboob, a communications officer at The Gambia's main referral hospital, was stripped from his post shortly after he was arrested in May. He was among dozens of people who were arrested by the government that accused them for supplying damaging state information to a US-based Gambian online newspaper, 'Freedom'.
For four months now, the whereabouts of journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh, who was said to have been arrested by state secret agents, were not known. Gambian security denied that he was under their custody.
The Gambia is ranked among six "hot spots" in the African continent where media brutality has become the order of the day.
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