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Newspaper editor freed, charged with "unlawful assembly"

(RSF/IFEX) - Roger Mancienne, editor of the privately-owned weekly "Regar" and secretary-general of the opposition Seychelles National Party (SNP), told Reporters Without Borders he was released on the morning of 4 October 2006, after being held for nearly 24 hours in the central police barracks in Victoria.

Like SNP leader Wavel Ramkalawan and "Regar" publisher Jean-François Ferrari, he has been charged with "unlawful assembly," which is punishable by a fine of 500 rupees (approx. 77 euros). All three have been told to report to police headquarters on 10 October.

"I was held in a dirty, stinking cell and I was handcuffed when they took me to be interrogated or to have my fingerprints taken," he told Reporters Without Borders. "I said to the police, my rights had been violated and that I had committed no crime."

The SNP called a news conference on the afternoon of 4 October to give its account of the violent dispersal of the 3 October demonstration outside parliament, which was called to demand an end to the state's monopoly of radio and TV broadcasting.

In its evening news programme on 3 October, the state-owned Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) just showed a few images of the demonstration and a long interview with the chief of police, giving "an erroneous version of the facts," Mancienne said.

"We will see whether or not the SBC comes to our news conference to balance its coverage," he said. "If it does not, it will prove the state media are controlled."

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