Journalists held over toxic waste report

September 12, 2006
Posted: September 22, 2006

Seydou Coulibaly, Le Jour Plus
Edouard Gonto, Le Jour Plus
Frédéric Koffi, Le Jour Plus


Coulibaly and Gonto were summoned on September 12 and detained overnight over a September 11 article titled “Toxic waste: Mrs. Gbagbo at the heart of the scandal,” according to Patrice Pohe, head of a local media directors’ organization, and a source at the newspaper.

The article alleged that First Lady Simone Gbagbo was involved in the dumping of toxic waste in several sites in Abidjan in mid-August, according to sources at Le Jour Plus. A press officer at the Ivorian presidency contacted by CPJ declined to comment. Since early September, at least six people have died and thousands have taken ill after inhaling fumes from the waste.

On September 15, the two journalists appeared in court with Koffi, the chief editor, who was initially summoned for questioning.

On September 18, Coulibaly, Gonto and Koffi were fined 15 million CFA francs ($29,000) by an Abidjan court for “contempt of the head of state”, according to news reports and their lawyer. They have filed an appeal and the payment of the fine is pending the outcome of the appeal.