Saturday, June 30, 2012

Indicted Editor of Today Convicted

Abdulhamid Adiamoh
The Banjul Magistrates Court yesterday convicted Mr. Abdulhamid Adiamoh, the managing editor and publisher of Today Newspaper on allegation of “contempt of court.”

Principal Magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe, presiding, sentenced him to a find of D100, 000 (over $3300) in default to serve 6 months in prison. 

 Mr. Adiamoh’s indictment by the court, his arrest and subsequent detention and conviction is in connection with an opinion article "Counsel sidesteps issues in cross-examination of vice chancellor of the University of The Gambia] Professor Kah," in which he criticized a defense lawyer, Badou S.M. Conteh, in the criminal trial of Dr. Gumbo Ali Touray, a former lecturer at the University. 

Before the June 28, 2012 sentencing, Mr. Adiamoh said he “sincerely regret the publication of the article” when asked by the Court to explain why he should not be charged with contempt of court.

“It was not intended to prejudice the court or be disrespectful to the authority of the court,” the managing editor of the privately-owned Today Newspaper said. “I was just trying to do my job as a journalist.”

Judge Alagbe, who took five minutes to decide on his ruling, said Mr. Adiamoh’s action was well calculated to discredit the court and the defence counsel. 

Mr. Adiamoh intended to ridicule and undermined the court and its officials and therefore, I found him guilty as charged and convict him accordingly, Alagbe ruled. 

Mr. Adiamoh’s counsel had before the sentencing, pleaded with the court to tamper justice with mercy. Lawyer Uzoma said the convict is a professional young man and a responsible person whose service is needed in the society. 

He is married and have children too, he added, before urging the Court to caution and discharge the convict.
“Taking into consideration the defence plea of mitigation, I hereby sentence Mr. Adiamoh to a fine of D100, 000 in default to serve 6 months imprisonment,” Alagbe said. 

Nonetheless, Mr. Adiamoh was able to go home as he meets the cost of fine. 

Following his arrest on June 20, Mr Adiamoh spend one week in detention, prompting the United States-based Committee to ProtectJournalists (CPJ) call for his immediate release as he was being detained beyond the legal limit of 72 hours without charge.

"Journalists should be allowed to shine a light on court proceedings without fearing that their coverage will land them behind bars," CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator, Mohamed Keita in New York said on June 25, 2012. "Authorities should release Abdulhamid Adiamoh immediately." Source: The Voice

Modou S. Joof contributed to this story

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