The Ivorian president had lodged a complaint more than three years ago over the bi-monthly, now merged within Africa’s intelligence service, for a brief publication in August 2017. It mentioned a sovereign fund of 520 million euros that it would have benefited of the Head of State.
In the first part of its decision, the court says in black and white: “The words prosecuted are defamatory of Alassane Ouattara”. He thus notes several expressions which “instruct the President of the Republic to use in his interest and in accordance with his benevolence funds for a considerable sum. […] consists of public money. “” It is also suggested that he increased the amount of these funds that he spends without control, as his brother is appropriately in charge of their leadership as prime minister, “the judge further specified. He therefore concludes that it is in fact” undermined “in honor and consideration” by Alassane Ouattara, as the conduct described “corresponds to the offense of embezzlement of public funds”.
The letter from the continent, however, is relaxed. In the second part of the decision, the court actually explains that the journalist must take advantage of the “excuse for good faith” by citing several criteria: the article concerned “a debate of public interest” – hiring of public funds – the tone was “moderate” and rather all “its actual basis was sufficient”.
The judge pointed out in particular that the figures in the brief on the size of the fund in question are in fact in line with the 2017 Finance Act and that “the lack of precision in the budget documents justifies the questions and the suspicion that the article is repeated”.