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Sudan: Editor of newspaper arrested over report on minister

BBC Monitoring

Text of report in English by Nairobi-based, USAID-funded Sudan Radio Service on 9 August

The editor of the Citizen Newspaper has been arrested in Juba for allegedly libeling the Government of Southern Sudan's [GOSS] Interior Minister Paul Mayom.

The Citizen's editor-in-chief, Nhial Bol, was in Juba following up why the police officer investigating an alleged car scandal in the Government of Southern Sudan was dismissed. Bol's paper has been reporting on assembly-ordered investigations into the GOSS' procurement of land cruisers. Quoting MPs in the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly, the newspaper report said that a company was contracted to supply 450 vehicles, but only 153 cars can now be accounted for. Further, the paper alleges that the government paid almost double the normal price for each car.

Speaking to Sudan Radio Service on phone from Khartoum on Wednesday, chief editor of the Khartoum Monitor's, Alfred Taban, said that his former colleague Nhial Bol believed that police officer Lt-Col Francis Chol Lang was dismissed as le! ad investigator into the car deal because he was about to complete a case that would implicate the government. For its part, the interior ministry says that Lt-Col Lang was dismissed as investigator because he was convicted of corruption last year in Al-Ghadarif [eastern Sudan].

When the Citizen printed that the Interior Ministry was not being truthful about their reasons for dismissing the investigator, authorities in Khartoum issued instructions to police in Juba to arrest Bol on charges of libel, or false statements that cause harm, on behalf of Minister Mayom and the Government of National Unity state minister of the interior.

Mr Taban says Bol's fate may now rest with the National Press Council in Khartoum:

[Alfred Taban]: "Yes, I think when he comes to Khartoum, he will be interviewed by the National Press Council and he should be released. Then if the accusers, the Ministry of Interior, are not satisfied with his explanation to ! the National Press Council, we'll expect him to appear in court."

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The Gurtong website reports that Bol was told he is supposed to report to police in Khartoum within a week, but is otherwise free. They quote him complaining that until southern Sudan passes media laws, conditions for journalists in the south remain - quote - "dangerous".

Source: Sudan Radio Service, Nairobi, in English 0000 gmt 9 Aug 07



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