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Special Court releases Observer reporter

Jul 12, 2012, 1:29 PM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

The remanded court reporter of the Daily Observer newspaper was yesterday set free by Justice Emmanuel Nkea of the Special Criminal Division of the high court in Banjul, following a brief appearance.

The judge ordered the released journalist to remedy the false publication by rewriting the proper judgment and proceedings by today.

Sidiq Asemota was also ordered to appear before him today to determine whether the order was carried out properly.

At the resumption of the case yesterday, Justice Nkea said: “You were arrested and detained by the order of this court dated 9 July for your publication in the Observer newspaper.

“You reported that two accused persons were arraigned and pleaded guilty for economic crimes amounting to D119, 000, and the court ordered them to pay D80, 000, compensation to the state.”

Justice Nkea then asked the journalist: “Where you in court on that day? “No, I was not in court on that day,” Asemota answered, adding, “I was reliably informed by the DPP.”

Have you got the judgment from me? Justice Nkea asked. “No, I was given the charge sheet by the DPP,” Asemota replied.

At that stage, the judge said, “I see that you are not repentant.”

“What was your interest in publishing something that you don’t verify?” Justice Nkea further asked.

“The DPP gave me the charge sheet,” Asemota responded.

“My lord, I am very sorry and I am not doing this to hurt you. I have made a mistake. It was not my intention to misinform the public. I have been following the charge sheet from you and you told me that you were busy, and that was the time I went to the DPP for the charge sheet. I have been doing this job for about 20 years now,” he told the judge.

“This morning, I have also read in the Daily Observer that the warrant I issued was shocking,” the judge said.

“Who is the editor-in-chief?” Justice Nkea asked. “Pa Malick Faye is our managing director, but we don’t have an editor-in-chief,” Asemota answered.

Justice Nkea subsequently issued a summons directing Pa Malick Faye to appear before him, to explain why he should not be charged with contempt of court for the comment made in the Daily Observer’s edition of Wednesday about the court’s proceedings.

Pa Malick Faye was in court, and as he tried to leave the court room with his reporter, the judge asked whether he is Faye, and he replied in the positive.

Justice Nkea then asked Mr. Faye about the Daily Observer’s comment that the decision of his court was shocking.

“Did this word come from you?” Justice Nkea asked, and Pa Malick Faye said, “Yes,”

“What prompted you to say that you find the court’s decision ‘shocking’”? the judge further asked.

“By the time Mr Asemota was sent to Mile 2, I never receive any information about it. As such, I was shocked by the news,” the Observer MD told the court.

The judge then told Pa Malick Faye that this court is a sacrosanct and impartial institution, and it does not belong to any media fraternity.

“You are not competent to evaluate the decision of the court. It is unacceptable, and not known anywhere in the world,” he stated.

“This court has no obligation to Daily Observer, but your reporter has an obligation to Daily Observer. He was not in court on that day.

“ I will excuse your conduct today, but if you continue with such behavior you will have a problem,” the judge warned before allowing Pa Malick Faye to leave the court.

“I am very sorry,” the Daily Observer boss apologized to the court.