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Sedition trial against journalist Fatou Jaw Manneh delayed further

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 11 March 2008, the sedition trial against Fatou Jaw Manneh, a US-based Gambian journalist, was delayed further at the Kanifing Magistrate Court as the Magistrate, Babu Jawo, failed to show up in court.

It was alleged by the court clerks that Jawo was presiding over the Juvenile Court, but according to sources in The Gambia this was false, since another magistrate, Kumba Camara, had been assigned to the Juvenile Court. The case has been adjourned until 17 March.

Jaw Manneh was initially arrested upon arrival in the Gambia on 28 March 2007, and charged on three counts of sedition. She was granted bail after having been detained for a week, but her travel documents were confiscated in order to prevent her from returning to the US.

Manneh is being tried for an article she wrote for the All-Gambian website ( ) in October 2005, in which she accused President Yahya Jammeh of "tearing our beloved country to shreds" and called him "a bundle of terror."

Since her arrest, Manneh's case has been moving back and forth between various Magistrate Courts in The Gambia with claims that because the article was published on the Internet, the courts lacked jurisdiction. On 7 December 2007, the High Court in Banjul stated that the case could be tried anywhere because of the global nature of the Internet and referred it back to the court where it was first tried - the Kanifing Magistrate Court.

Until her arrest, Fatou Jaw Manneh had been residing in the US for at least a decade, and only came to The Gambia in 2007 to attend her father's funeral. Manneh risks a total of 6 years in prison if she is found guilty of the charges preferred against her.

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