Jailed MP released by presidential decree

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has welcomed the release this week of Kenya's jailed opposition member of parliament and publisher, Njehu Gatabaki, by presidential decree.

Gatabaki, who is editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine, Finance, was on 9 August sentenced to six months' imprisonment after being found guilty of publishing an "alarming" report, which directly implicated Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi in politically motivated ethnic killings in Molo, Rift Valley Province during the run-up to the 1992 general elections.

Gatabaki was on Wednesday being held in Kamiti Maximum Security Prison just outside the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, when he was released at the orders of Moi, according the East African Standard newspaper.

The case against Gatabaki arose from a December 1997 report in Finance magazine, entitled "Moi ordered the Molo massacre", alleging that Moi was responsible for ethnic clashes which plagued parts of Rift Valley Province in the early 1990s, according to CPJ. Gatabaki had originally been arrested on 5 December 1997, but was subsequently granted bail, after which the case had been inching its way through Kenya's backlogged court system, CPJ said.

His sentencing drew protests from press freedom organisations, notably the CPJ and Reporters sans frontieres, each of which issued a statement asserting that what had befallen Gatabaki was part of the government's plan to "harass" the media. "Journalists should never be criminally prosecuted for doing their work. We demand the immediate release of Gatabaki," Ann Cooper, the CPJ executive director, said in a statement released on Wednesday.