Hearing of the appeal case filed by El-Malick Seck, a publisher of Dakar-based Daily24 Heures Chrono newspaper, has been adjourned to February 16, 2009 for judgement.
The legal officer of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) who was in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, to observe the hearing reported that counsel for El-Malick Seck; Demba Ciré Bathily , M. Assan Joma Ndiaye from Organisation National de droit de l’homme (ONDH), and M. Alioume Kane from Rencontre Africain de droit de l’homme (RADDHO), argued that the published article was quoted from an information he received and not his personal opinion.
Demba Ciré stated that Seck was merely exercising his right to free speech which is a fundamental guaranteed right in a democratic society and did not intend to insult the president. Counsel therefore pleaded with the court to exonerate Seck.
Second counsel, Kane noted in his address that Seck is suffering for keeping the public informed of the affairs of government – something he has been doing since he established his media outfit.
Third counsel, Ndiaye stressed that the publication in question was already information well-known to the public but which no one had publicised. According to him, Seck was being victimised because he decided to speak out. He recounted how his client kept Senegalese in the diaspora well informed and wondered why he was being sacrificed for ensuring that citizens had access to information.
Seck, who has practised as a journalist for 13 years, was found guilty under Article 80, 255 and 258 of the penal code and sentenced to three years in prison for insulting the head of state; publishing false news; and indulging in acts which could lead to public disturbances.