MARCH 1, 2005
Posted: April 14, 2005

Lola Rasoamaharo, La Gazette de la Grande IleRolly Mercia, La Gazette de la Grande Ile

Rasoamaharo, publication director of the private daily La Gazette de la Grande Ile, was sentenced to prison in connection with three separate defamation charges. He was not taken into custody, pending a decision in his appeal.

Mamy Rakotoarivelo, deputy speaker of the National Assembly, filed a criminal complaint about an article published in La Gazette in January. The story, which described a dispute between Rakotoarivelo and an editor at the newspaper, referred to Rakotoarivelo as a “cretin.” Rasoamaharo was sentenced to two months in prison and a three million ariary (US $1,621) fine.

Businessman Mamod Taky Mamode Abasseky filed a complaint about a May 2004 article. The article alleged that Abasseky was involved in criminal activities but that charges against him had been dropped. In this case, Rasoamaharo was sentenced to two months in prison. Mercia, editor-in-chief at the paper, was given a one-month suspended prison sentence. Rasoamaharo was also ordered to pay a symbolic fine of one ariary.

A person named Gaby Ramaherijaona filed the third complaint. It stemmed from the reprint in La Gazette of an article originally published in Le Journal de l’Ile de la Réunion, which is based on the neighboring island of Reunion. The article alleged that Ramaherijaona had been accused of pedophilia by his ex-wife. In this case, Rasoamaharo was sentenced to one month in prison and one million (US $540) ariary in fines.