The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the authorities in Tanzania to drop all charges against prominent Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera ahead of his court appearance tomorrow, 30 August.
According to the IFJ, the Kabendera, a freelance journalist who works for several local and international media, has been held in custody awaiting the trial since 29 July, when police arrested him for questioning over his citizenship.
However, when he appeared in court for bail hearing on August 5, prosecutors filed new and totally different charges of working with criminal networks, tax evasion and money laundering, offences for which he couldn’t qualify for bail.
The first hearing was scheduled on 19 August, but the police asked for a reschedule to 30 August, saying they were still working on their investigations.
The IFJ is concerned that the journalist’s arrest and the confused prosecution based on spurious charges are an attempt to hide what merely is a ruthless retaliation against Kabendera for his reporting.
“He was taken to court on Monday the 5th August but, charges had completely changed and we still don’t know whether he will be cleared with citizenship and sedition charges or not.
Though his lawyers have tried to get back the passports from the immigration office, they refused to give them back,” his sister Prisca Kabendera told the IFJ.
“We are waiting for tomorrow’s court session, to see if authorities submit evidence so the hearing can start or they will ask for more time while he remains in jail,” Prisca Kabendera added.
The IFJ urges authorities to drop all the fabricated charges against Erick Kabendera and release him immediately.
By: Isaac Asirifi/internewsnetwork.com