7 February 2013

West Africa: President Pardons TV Director, One Other

press release

President Thomas Yayi Boni on January 31, 2013 pardoned Berthe Cakpossa, director of privately-owned television station, Canal 3, and Lionel Agbo, a former government official, who were sentenced to three months and six months in prison respectively, for offending the Head of State.

According to the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent, the president in a statement issued on January 31, declared his decision to withdraw his suit against Cakpossa and Agbo and pardoned them for their offence.

The two were tried and convicted by a district Court in Cotonou, the capital, on January 16, 2013.

According to the correspondent, Cakpossa who was also fined an amount of 500,000 CFA francs (about $US1,000) was sentenced for airing entirely, a September 18, 2012 press conference organised by Agbo, former presidential spokesperson.

During the press conference, Agbo reportedly accused some key presidential staffers of engaging in corrupt practices.

President Boni, angered by Agbo's comments and Canal 3's broadcast, on September 19, 2012 wrote to the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC), the media regulatory body, accusing the television station of "disturbing public order" and requesting that sanctions be meted out to the TV channel.

The MFWA welcoming this measure by the President to overturn the conviction, calls on the authorities to initiate processes to expunge laws that criminalise speech from the law books.

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