Cote d’Ivoire UPDATE: Police grills two newspaper journalists for several hours

Two journalists of the Abidjan-based privately-owned L’Expression newspaper were grilled by the Ivoirian police for a long period over a February 8 article that the newspaper carried on an alleged casualties of a para-military group’s clamp down on demonstrators.

Diarrassouba Youssouf and Dembele Al Seni, publisher and reporter respectively, of the newspaper were subjected to questioning for over ten hours.

The two were interrogated on various issues ranging from their intention for publishing the article to their political affiliation. L’Expression newspaper had alleged that Mama Militia, a paramilitary group in the Abidjan District of Gagnoa, killed five of the protesters and injured several others as part of a move to clampdown on the demonstrators.

The demonstrations had been called to protest President Laurent Gbagbo’s call for the dissolution of the government and the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI). They were organised by the Rallye des Houphouétistes pour la Démocratie et pour la Paix (RHDP), a coalition of the four main opposition parties in the country.

That was the second time that Youssouf, also known as “Gnaore David”, had been summoned for questioning by the authorities over events relating to the demonstrations. On May 7, Youssouf was summoned for questioning by the Regional Police Commander for allegedly relaying information to France 24 television station and other Ivorian media. The journalist, who did not deny using the information when confronted by the police commander, was carrying on with his normal duties until May 5, when he was summoned to the police station.

Dembele Al Seni, who wrote the February 20 article, was on May 26 asked to report to the police again. He was released without charge.

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