Journalist convicted in Gambia on contempt chargeBy BABOUCARR CEESAY in Banjul | Monday, July 2 2012 at 14:28
The publisher of Gambia’s Today newspaper was last week convicted on a contempt of court charge and fined Dalasi 100,000 (about $3,571) or serve six months in prison in default.
Abdoulhamid Adiamoh, a Nigerian, had already spent eight days in remand prison in Banjul and before his sentencing he was apologetic to the court for an article he had published in June criticizing a defence lawyer in a case involving an official of the University of Gambia.
He paid the fine after the court’s verdict.
Further showing remorse, he told the court: “I have no intention to undermine the integrity of the court. I have absolute confidence in the integrity of the court and its officials,” saying he was just doing his job as a journalist.
Gambian authorities have a long documented history of being harsh toward independent media.
One of the more publicized incidents has been that of prominent journalist Deyda Hydara who was murdered seven years ago by people who are suspected to have been government agents.
Hydara used to edit the Independent Point newspaper.
Another journalist, Ebrima Manneh, has been missing for years.
Last year, a former president of the Gambia Press Union, Ndey Tapha Sosseh, was charged with treason for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the government of President Yahya Jammeh.
In Adiamoh’s case, an apology letter was published in The Daily Observer newspaper.
The letter was tendered in court alongside a plea for leniency by the defence lawyer.
But the presiding magistrate was nonetheless scathing, describing the journalist as “unprofessional” and saying ignorance of the law was no defence.
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