Posted: January 29, 2004
Chériff Haïdara, Sido
Mamoutou Traoré, Sido
Gata Ba, Sido
IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION
According to local sources, police in Ségou, a city in southern
Mali, arrested three journalists with the privately owned Sido radio station.
Host Haïdara, radio director Traoré, and reporter and host
Ba were arrested on October 20, 24, and 26, respectively.
In early October, the station aired a report criticizing a court ruling
made in Ségou against a nearby village association that had been
in dispute with a local bank. The court ruled that livestock should be
confiscated from villagers to settle the association's debt to the bank.
The radio broadcast interviews with angry villagers, who criticized debt
collectors for confiscating the animals.
On October 14, after the report aired, several debt collectors entered
the radio station and confiscated broadcasting equipment, a computer,
cassette decks, mixers, and other materials, said local sources. With
the help of Moussa Kéita, the president of Mali's High Council
on Communications, the equipment was returned the same day. According
to K&EGRAVE;ita, the debt collectors' confiscation of the equipment came
in reprisal for the station's reporting.
The journalists were released on November 18, after a judicial hearing
in Sédou. A lawyer representing the journalists said they would
likely face trial. The journalists are accused of "opposing legitimate
authorities," "insulting police agents," "broadcasting false news," and
defamation, the lawyer said.