Banjul,Gambia - The prosecution on Thursday amended charges brought against two journalists for allegedly publishing false news. Musa Sheriff, Editor-In-Chief of The Voice newspaper and freelance journalist Sainey M.K. Marenah had earlier pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit felony and publication of false news.
On Thursday, prosecutor Musa Camara applied to the Banjul Magistrate's Court to amend the charges to “conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour” and “false publication”.
The application was approved by Magistrate Lamin Mbye and the journalists have pleaded not guilty to the new charges.
Prosecution witness Lamin Jammeh, a police officer of the Criminal Investigation Unit for the West Coast Region, told the court that the Office of the President on 7 January, 2014 directed the Inspector General of Police to investigate a publication by The Voice that said 19 Green Youths, a youth group in the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), from Tanji had crossed carpet to the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP).
He said statements were obtained from the journalists and the leaders of the ruling party in Tanji.
Jammeh said Marenah provided the information to the newspaper and it was edited by Sheriff before publication.
According to him, on 30 November, 2013 there was a political rally at Tanji Youth Centre and no speaker said 19 Green Youths had crossed carpet to the opposition party.
When Jammeh was asked what he found offensive in the newspaper publication, he replied that the information was false.
The case has been adjourned to 19 February, 2014.