The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ivorian Police have begun grilling editors and journalists of six pro-Ouattara daily newspapers over their news reports in the wake of the political crises in the country.
In a letter on February 14 to the newspapers and signed by the Director of the CID, the newspapers were asked to appear before Raymond Tchimou Féhou, the State Prosecutor at the Plateau Magistrate’s court in an on-going enquiry on February 18 .
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s correspondent in Cote d’ Ivoire reported that the newspapers, Le Nouveau Réveil, Le Patriote, Nord-Sud Quotidien, Le Mandat, La Démocratie and Le Jour Plus, have since appeared before the Deputy Public Prosecutor, Diakité Mamadou and grilled for several hours without any charges preferred against them. They are however, expected to appear again this week.
The correspondent said the journalists were grilled in the presence of their lawyers on wide range of articles they published on the post-election crisis in the country. Some of the questions that were asked the editors and journalists were: “Who is the current President of Cote d’Ivoire?”, “Why did you enthusiastically announce the arrival of ECOMOG in Cote d’Ivoire?” and “Why do you refer to Gbagbo as ‘Mr.Gbagbo’ and Alassane Ouattara as ‘President Ouattara’?”
The correspondent said they were accused of “inciting the public to civil disobedience”, “insubordination with regard to the authority of the State”, “incitement to violence, insult of the Presidents of the Republic and Institutions, incitement to civil and religious confrontation and dissemination of information considered to be “top secret”.
The newspapers according to the correspondent risk closure if they are found guilty of the possible charges. They may face closure as was clearly hinted in the first communiqué issued by the pro-Gbagbo Advisory Body of the National Media Council (CNP) inaugurated on February 9.