Africa cases 2003: Country List    I   Africa Regional Home Page
How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

AUGUST 1, 2003

Msélem Ali, Radio Ngazidja
Abdou Djibaba, Radio Ngazidja

Police arrested Ali, editor-in-chief of Radio Ngazidja, and Djibaba, the station's director, at the radio's offices on Grande Comore, the largest of the nation's three islands.

In an editorial aired by the station, Ali accused the Comorian central government of corruption and alleged that the country's judicial system is compromised by ties between the judiciary and the central administration.

Djibaba was released the same day he was arrested, after the police decided that he was not responsible for the radio's editorial. Ali was held at the police station for 72 hours and then put in "preventive detention" in a prison, where he spent eight days in solitary confinement, according to local journalists. Ali was never formally charged, these sources said. He was released on September 13 after a court hearing.

AUGUST 2, 2003

Ahmed Kayssane, Radio Ngazidja

Police arrested Kayssane, a correspondent for Radio Ngazidja, in the southern village of Mohoro on Grande Comore, the largest of the country's three islands. Radio Ngazidja is the official radio station of Grande Comore (also known as Ngazidja), which is administered semiautonomously by its own president under the terms of the country's 2002 constitution. Grande Comore is also the seat of the Comorian central government, led by President Azali Assoumani, which oversees all three islands.

Kayssane's arrest stemmed from a report he made about President Assoumani's visit to Mohoro. The journalist hinted that local residents were not enthusiastic to see the president, according to local journalists.

After Kayssane's arrest, police brought him to the capital, Moroni, and questioned him about the report, local journalists said. Kayssane was then sentenced to two months in prison for "offending the head of state," of which one month was suspended. Kayssane was released on September 2, according to journalists at Radio Ngazidja, and returned to work at the station.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2003
Posted: October 1, 2003

Morad Aït-Habbouche, Canal Plus

Comorian police detained French journalist Aït-Habbouche, a cameraman working for the private, France-based television channel Canal Plus, in the capital, Moroni, along with Said Larifou, who heads the opposition Rally for a Development Initiative with an Enlightened Youth (RIDJA). Authorities alleged that Larifou, along with two other French citizens detained the previous day, were planning a coup in the notoriously unstable country.

Local journalists told CPJ that Aït-Habbouche had planned to film demonstrations by RIDJA supporters the day he was arrested, and that he may have been pre-emptively detained to restrict coverage of the protests. The journalist had also planned to interview Comoros President Col. Azali Assoumani. Aït-Habbouche was released on September 24 and returned to France three days later.