Three Togolese journalists were charged on Thursday for false and defamatory information, following an article about a case of kick-back involving the ministers of Finance and Economy as well as the minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
According to the MFWA correspondent in Togo, sources close to the Togolese press managers’ union (PPT), say it was the chief magistrate who charged the journalists after a brief hearing.
The matter goes back to September 25th and 29th (in the case of Ketehou) when Izotou Abi-Alfa, Zeus Aziadouvo and Carlos Ketohou, Managing Editors of the Le Rendez-vous, Liberté et L’Indépendant Express respectively, were interrogated by the central command of the Criminal Investigations Department of the police.
The three were accused of publishing a story about an asphalt road project in which the minister of Finance and Economy, Adji Oteth Ayassor and his colleague, the minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Ninsao Gnofam, were believed to have received a kick-back commission of 10 billion CFA francs out of the total project cost 26 billion CFA francs.
On Thursday October 22nd, they were arraigned before the chief magistrate who informed them about the charges. PPT sources say they are believed to have been placed on probation.
It would be recalled that Zeus Aziadouvo is the president of the Togolese press managers’ union (PPT) which is believed to be close to the opposition.
The MFWA abhors the criminal prosecution for press offenses. We, therefore, call on the Togolese authorities to ensure that the journalists tried under a civil procedure.