Martin Inoua Doulguet, publisher of the privately owned Salam Info newspaper, was found guilty on criminal charges of defamation and conspiracy on September 23, 2019, and sentenced to three years in prison. The journalist was arrested on August 16 in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital, alongside Abdramane Boukar Koyon, director of the privately owned Le Moustik newspaper, following a defamation complaint by Toupta Boguena, a former health minister
Since 2017, Doulguet has been the publisher of the quarterly Salam Info newspaper, which reports on crime and politics in Chad in its print edition and via Facebook, according to the outlet’s Facebook page.
Police arrested Doulguet on August 16, 2019, in N’Djamena, following a defamation complaint by Boguena, a former Chadian minister of health, according to Olivier Gouara, the journalist’s lawyer, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app. The two journalists appeared in court for the first of four hearings on September 2, Gouara said.
The charges in both cases stemmed from defamation complaints filed by Boguena over reports published in Le Moustik on June 19 and in Salam Info on July 14, Gouara told CPJ. On September 9, the judge added criminal conspiracy charges to the defamation complaints, Gouara said.
On September 23, Doulguet and Koyon were found guilty on criminal charges of defamation and conspiracy; the court sentenced Doulguet to three years in Amsinéné Prison and fined Koyon and Doulguet one million Central African francs ($1,675) each, to be paid to the state, and awarded Boguena 20 million francs ($33,514) in damages, which the journalists will be jointly responsible for paying, Gouara said. Gouara said he did not know why only Doulguet had been sentenced to prison.
Gouara told CPJ that he submitted an appeal for both journalists’ cases on September 24, but a court date had not been set as of late in the year. Le Moustik’s June 19 report, which CPJ reviewed, concerned a criminal witchcraft and sexual assault complaint involving Boguena. The Salam Info report, which CPJ also reviewed, concerned a July 13 press conference in which the criminal investigation into Boguena was dropped.
On September 23, Doulguet appeared in court with a swollen face and a bruised eye, which resulted from a fight in Amsinéné Prison with a man Doulguet had previously told the police had set his car on fire, Gouara told CPJ.
The lawyer said the guards failed to prevent the fight and that Doulguet saw a doctor for his injuries the same day. On September 27, Gouara said Doulguet has spots on his skin, but did not elaborate and could not confirm their cause.
When contacted by CPJ over messaging app, Alain Kagombe, Boguena’s lawyer, declined repeated requests to comment on Doulguet and Koyon’s cases. CPJ also messaged Youssouf Tome, the first prosecutor of the N’Djamena criminal court, who said he could not comment on the cases.