New York, April 8, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has learned that journalist Gaston Bony, publication director of Le Venin weekly newspaper and a host at the radio station La Voix de l’Agnéby, has been sentenced to six months in prison on criminal defamation charges.
On March 24, a court in Agboville, a town about 37 miles (60 kilometers) north of the commercial capital, Abidjan, sentenced Bony to six months in prison and a fine of 50,000 CFA francs (US$93). Agboville Mayor Tetchi Chiedou Claude pressed charges against Bony after he accused the mayor of corruption in a February 23 Le Venin article, according to local sources.
President Laurent Gbagbo has repeatedly claimed that “no journalist [would] be imprisoned” by his administration. This is the first time since Gbagbo came to power four years ago that a journalist has been convicted and jailed for his work in Ivory Coast.
“We call for the immediate release of Gaston Bony,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We urge the Ivoirian government to keep its promises not to imprison journalists for press offenses.”