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Journalist struck and arrested by Somaliland capital's mayor

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the arbitrary behaviour of mayor Hussein Mohamoud Ji'ir of Hargeisa, the capital of the northern breakaway territory of Somaliland, who on 28 June 2007 slapped journalist Abdirahman Musse Omar several times in the face and then had him arrested.

"The only explanation for Omar's continuing detention is abuse of authority by the mayor," Reporters Without Borders said. "Omar must be released at once. His arrest is the result of an archaic view of authority. It is the mayor, not the journalist, who should be punished since, as far as we know, Somaliland's laws do not permit this kind of abusive behaviour."

When Omar went to the Hargeisa city hall at 10 a.m. (local time) on 28 June, the mayor came out of his office and asked who had come to see him. Omar said he wanted to get his comments on the deadly clashes that had taken place between police and residents in a suburb of Hargeisa. Instead of replying, the mayor snatched his camera and began to slap him. Security guards then locked him up in one of the two cells that have been built inside the city hall. Last night he was taken to police headquarters in Hargeisa, where he is still being held.

A Somaliland journalist told Reporters Without Borders that Omar was due to appear in court on 30 June. It is not known what charges will be brought against him.

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