(JollofNews) – A magistrates’ court in Banjul has this morning acquitted and discharged two local journalists who were standing trial for conspiracy to cause misdemeanour and publication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public.
Sainey Marenah, a freelance journalist and Musa Sheriff, editor-in-chief and publisher of The Voice newspaper, were arrested and detained for three days by police after they published a story on 6th December, 2012 about the defection of 17 supporters of President Yahya Jammeh’s APRC party to the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP).
Not happy with the publication of the story, a directive was issued by the President’s Office for the arrest and prosecution of the two journalists.
Marenah and Sheriff were subsequently arrested in January 2013 before being charged.
In support of the case, the prosecution called several witnesses including a youth leader of the APRC who denied the defection of his party supporters to the UDP.
After the prosecution had finished outlining its case, Lamin Camara, counsel for the two journalists filed a no case to answer submission.
Mr Camara urged the court to acquit and discharge the two journalists as the state had woefully failed to make a prima facie case against them. He added that the prosecution witnesses were discredited during cross-examination and the prosecution had failed to prove the essential elements in court.
This was upheld by the magistrate, Jackle Hackim, who acquitted and discharged the journalists.
Meanwhile, reacting to the verdict, Sainey Marenah expressed relief and thanked his family and supporters for standing by him.
“Justice has been done in my case and I thank god, friends, relatives and well-wishers for standing by me during one of the most difficult periods of my life.”