Independent radio station closed, director beaten up

The authorities in southern Chad have closed Radio Brakos, an independent radio station in the small town of Moissala, after it broadcast an interview with an opposition politician, sources in Moissala told IRIN.

Local police occupied the radio station on 9 February and beat up its director, Vatankah Tchanguis, the sources said.

Tchanguis, an Iranian who has lived in Chad for the past 20 years, was then detained for 48 hours and then released without charge.

The sources said that more than a week after his release Tchanguis was still interned in Moissala district hospital, recovering from his injuries. These included head wounds and a bleeding eye.

Moissala is a small town near the frontier with Central African Republic, 600 km south of the capital N'Djamena.

The Union of Private Radios in Chad and several press freedom watchdogs, including the New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists and Kinshasa-based Journalists in Danger, have protested at the closure of Radio Brakos and the harsh treatment meted out to its director.

The sources in Moissala told IRIN that Radio Brakos had been closed and Tchanguis had been beaten on the orders of the local prefect Bouba Dalissou.

This is the latest in a series of measures taken by the government of President Idriss Deby to curb criticicism in the media.

Last October the government closed down the N'Djamena radio station FM Liberte after it compared Deby's authoritarian rule to that of his predecessor Hissene Hibre. Both men came to power through military coups.