Reporter held after exposing judicial flaws
Reporters Without Borders calls on the Chadian authorities to release Madjissembaye Ngardinon, a reporter for the newspaper Abba Garde, who has been detained since 24 June in N’Djamena in connection with his coverage of a property dispute.
The journalist has been released on the evening of 28 June and the charges against him have been dropped
The police arrested Ngardinon during an operation to evict the former holders of a concession on a piece of land who had just lost a legal battle with the owner of the land.
He was detained as he photographed police officers subduing a woman who was resisting their efforts to make her leave. The police took him to the headquarters of the PSIG (a special gendarmerie unit) and then to the prosecutor’s office, where it was ruled that he been arrested “in the act of a crime.”
He is scheduled to be taken before a judge on 1 July and is to remain in custody until then.
His newspaper’s editor said the prosecutor’s office had reacted in this manner because of an article by Ngardinon in the newspaper’s 20 June issue in which he highlighted flaws and contradictions in the way the judicial authorities have handled this property dispute.
“We call for the immediate release of Abba Garde’s journalist, who is clearly being held on a trumped-up charges,” RSF said. “All he did was write an article highlighting legal irregularities. It is absurd that the criminal code has been manipulated in this way to serve private interests.”
The article clearly annoyed the judicial officials involved. Since his arrest, the charges have been changed to contempt of court and “rebellion.” The first offence is punishable for one to six months in prison and the second by three months to two years in prison and a fine of up to 500,000 CFA francs (760 euros).
RSF defended Abba Garde publisher Moussaye Avenir de la Tchiré in 2013, when he spent four months in preventive detention on charges of inciting hatred and inciting a popular uprising.
Chad is ranked 127th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.