31 March 2011

Gambia ALERT: Sports journalist in court for hosting aggrieved golf workers

MFWA-The Kanifing District Magistrate Court will on March 31, 2011 continue with the criminal trial of Bakary B. Baldeh, a sports producer and presenter of West Coast Radio, a privately-owned FM station, over a February 11 sports programme that the Gambian authorities claimed was criminal and meant to incite violence among Gambians.

This will the third time that Baldeh will appear before the court to answer charges of “conspiracy to commit felony”, and a “conspiracy” to incite violence. The charges stemmed from the presenter’s hosting of two aggrieved golf workers who had accused Ebrima Jawara, President of the Gambia Golfers Association and the son of former President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, of unfair treatment during a recent national golf tournament in the country. The tournament was sponsored by PresidentYahya Jammeh. Baldeh has since pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
On its website on March 25, the pro-government Banjul-based The Daily Observer newspaper reported that Baldeh is being tried as a result of an alleged complaint filed by Ebrima Jawara. However, Media Foundation forWest Africa (MFWA) sources in the Gambia said that that was not the case and that Jawara has denied that he initiated the action.
Baldeh was arrested on March 23 after being invited to the Karaiba police station in the Kanifing Municipality in the northern part of Banjul together with the station’s proprietor, Peter Gomez. While Gomez was released after a brief interrogation, Baldeh was illegally detained for three days. He was released on March 25 after making his first appearance in court. 
Meanwhile, Baldeh has decided to temporary suspend his programme until his ordeal is over, according to the Daily Observer


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