Newspaper director imprisoned over critical editorials

Newspaper director imprisoned over critical editorials
FEBRUARY 26, 2008
Posted March 14, 2008
Aboubacar Gourouza, L’Eveil Plus

Police in the capital, Niamey, arrested Aboubacar Gourouza, director of the bimonthly L’Eveil Plus, and took him into custody over two separate complaints triggered by critical editorials published on January 29, according to news reports and local journalists.

Gourouza was charged with criminal defamation pursuant to a complaint filed by Moussa Keita, a politician of the ruling MNSD party, in connection with an analysis suggesting Keita was contriving to discredit MNSD Chairman Hama Amadou by seeking judicial indictments against him, according to CPJ research. L’Eveil Plus is editorially aligned with Amadou, a contender for the 2009 presidential elections, according to local journalists.

The state prosecutor also charged Gourouza with contempt of the judiciary under Niger’s penal code, according to defense lawyer Karim Souley. The charge stemmed from commentary critical of the judiciary’s disparate handling of two high-profile corruption cases.

Gourouza was denied bail and on March 6, a Niamey court sentenced the journalist to one month in prison and a fine of 50,000 CFA francs (US$120), according to news reports. Gourouza did not appeal the sentence and was expected to serve the full sentence in Niamey’s civil prison, Souley said.