The rigorous and protracted legal battle has not dampened the spirits of the acquitted Gambian Journalists.
Musa S. Sheriff and Sainey Marenah, who are celebrating their legal victory, remain firm in their resolve to execute their journalistic duties without fear or favour. They were on Monday freed on charges of “conspiracy to commit misdemeanor” and “false publication.”
Sheriff, Editor-In-Chief of The Voice newspaper and freelance journalist, Sainey M.K. Marenah, were being tried for publishing an article on the defections of “19 green youths [supporters of the ruling party] join the opposition UDP [United Democratic Party]” on November 30, 2013.
The duo was arrested on January 13, 2014 and detained beyond the legal limit of 72 hours before being embroiled in a ten month trial. Both journalists maintained their innocence throughout the trial period.
On November 10, Magistrate Jackline Nixon Hakim freed Sheriff and Marenah. The verdict followed defence lawyer’s submission of the “no case to answer.”
“I have to say a big thank you to the staff of The Voice newspaper who have been resolute in their work during this difficult time… I must say the same to the entire management of the paper, to my family,
Gambian journalists and our lawyer,” Sheriff said. He said The Voice will continue to work diligently without fear or favor, affection or ill-will. “It was a long and tiring legal battle but I praise Allah for all that happened,” he said.
However, he said Gambia Press Union and the government must work together to create a better environment for journalism to flourish.
Marenah, fondly called ‘MK’, said: “I’m happy that justice has been done… even though it has been a long legal battle that we have to endure since January of this year.
“I’m grateful to all my family, friends and colleagues who stood by me during this difficult time.”
Marenah said there is “no doubt” he will continue to do his job without fear or favor. “I could have dropped the pen during this ifficult and trying time, but [I] see no reason for doing so. I’m more determined to carry out my job as a journalist,” he said.