Senegal Update: Former Minister appears in court after 21 days in detention

Samuel Amèth Sarr, a former Minister of Energy under the presidency of Abdoulaye Wade, appeared in Court on charges of libelling Senegalese President Macky Sall on 10th September, 2014.

The MFWA’s correspondent in Senegal reported that Sarr did not deny the facts of the case for which he has detained since 19th August.

After the hearing, his lawyers applied to judge Samba Fall to grant him bail, but he was taken back into custody.

Sarr’s ongoing detention and trial is as a result of a post he made on his Facebook page on 18th August. He posted a bank account number, which he alleged belonged to President Macky Sall. The post also alleged that the president had enriched himself illegally. In addition, he asked the Senegalese Judiciary to find out who owns the bank account, which is credited with an amount of FCFA 7 billion (about US $14 million).

Sarr was arrested on 19th August, and charged with libelling the Head of State on 20th August an offence punishable by Article 80 of the Senegalese Criminal Code. If found guilty, Sarr faces between three to five years in jail and a fine between FCFA 100,000 and FCFA 1,500,000 (about US $200–US$3000).

The continued existence and liberal application of criminal libel laws threatens freedom of expression and democratisation. The MFWA once again calls on the Senegalese government to repeal laws such as Article 80 that criminalise speech.

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