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Today Newspaper Editor fined D100,000

Jun 29, 2012, 2:31 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The lower court in Banjul yesterday fined the proprietor and the Editor-in-chief of Today newspaper D100, 000 in default to serve six months in prison, after he admitted to contempt of court.

Adiamoh, who spent the last eight days at the remand wing of the state central prison Mile 2, paid the fine shortly after the court ruling.

He was arrested and remanded after lawyer Badou Conteh defence counsel in the case of Dr Gumbo Ali Touray, former director of international affairs at the University of The Gambia, UTG, informed the court that somebody “used” Today newspaper to attack him personally during cross examination of Professor Kah, vice chancellor of the UTG.

The article was published in the newspaper’s edition of 19th June 2012.

Magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe, who ordered Adiamoh’s arrest, described his attitude as ‘unprofessional’ before declaring him guilty.

Asked to explain to the court why he should not be charged with contempt of court for the publication he made in his newspaper, Adiamoh said: “I want to seek the indulgence of this court based on the charge read against me. I want to say that I had no absolute intention to undermine the integrity of the court, neither their officials or to obstruct the proceedings of the court.”

He told the court that he was doing his job as a journalist, but was quick to say a ‘big sorry’.

I have no intention to undermine the integrity of the court. I have absolute confidence in the integrity of the court and its officials,” he said.

Defence counsel Azoma informed the court that an apology letter written by the accused had been published in The Daily Observer newspaper.

The copy of the apology letter was tendered in court as an exhibit.

In his ruling, Principal Magistrate Alagbe said what the Today newspaper Editor did was a grievous contempt of court, adding that doing ‘your job’ as a journalist should not be an excuse for interfering with court proceedings.

Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Scandalizing the court is what brings discontent of court,” Magistrate Alagbe said in his ruling, noting that the action of the editor was an attempt to lower the integrity of the court.

I hold and find that the accused is guilty of contempt of court,” he said, warning journalists to desist from scandalizing the court, and to avoid unprofessional reporting.

In his plea of mitigation, defence counsel Azoma told the court that the convicted person is a professional, a young man with responsibilities, who is needed in the society.

He said the convicted person was married with two kids, who during his days in detention had been clamouring for their father.

He urged the court to temper justice with mercy, looking at the days he spent in prison remand, which he added should be seen as enough punishment while citing the fact that the court has powers to caution or admonish the convicted person.

Counsel urged the court to exercise it discretion judiciously for the benefit of the society.

Magistrate Alagbe said he had taken into consideration the powerful plea of mitigation of the counsel, but added that punishment would serve as a deterrent to others.

He subsequently convicted and sentenced Adimoah to pay a fine of D100, 000 in default to serve six months imprisonment with hard labour.

Present at the court were the mother of Adimoah, who came from Nigeria, friends, family, as well as staff of Today newspaper who were all in court.