Public Prosecutor Simplice Kouadio ordered the arrests of Editor Etou, copy editor Dépry, and political desk chief Sivori following the publication of columns critical of the government, according to local journalists and news reports. The daily Notre Voie is known as favoring former leader Laurent Gbagbo.
Authorities interrogated the journalists over a critical November 21 column concerning the government’s reported acquisition of Mercedes Class E vehicles for members of the cabinet, defense lawyer Serge Essouo told CPJ. The journalists were also questioned about a November 24 column that criticized the government’s dismissive reaction to a Notre Voie report regarding currency valuation.
Police detained the trio without formal charge beyond the 48-hour constitutional limit on pretrial detention and in contravention of Ivory Coast’s 2004 Press Law, which bans the detention of journalists for press matters, according to local journalists and CPJ research. On November 29, a judge charged the journalists under the penal code with “incitement to theft, looting and destruction of private property via a press channel,” Essouo told CPJ.
The three were being held in Abidjan’s MACA Prison, according to local journalists.