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Radio Mada reporter freed after two weeks in detention

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders welcomes Radio Mada reporter Evariste Ramanantsoavina's release on 20 May 2009. He had been held since 5 May, when soldiers arrested him in order to force him to reveal the location from which the station was broadcasting in defiance of a closure order.

"We are relieved to learn that Ramanantsoavina is free at last," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is nonetheless deplorable that he spent two weeks in detention although the authorities had no substantive evidence that he had committed any crime."

An Antananarivo court ordered his release at a midday hearing on 20 May after acquitting him on five charges, including "inciting revolt," and fining him 1 million Ariary (approx. 371 euros) on a sixth charge of disseminating false information. Many journalists were in the courtroom for the hearing, but Ramanantsoavina remained in prison and was finally released at about 5:00 p.m. (local time).

Arrested at his home by masked soldiers at 5:00 a.m. on 5 May, he had been charged on 7 May and incarcerated in the capital's Antanimora prison.

Radio Mada supports the exiled former president, Marc Ravalomanana. After Ramanantsoavina had been forced to reveal the secret location from which it had been broadcasting since the change of government, soldiers went to the location, dismantled the transmitter and seized equipment.

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