Star FM top Executives have strongly denied the allegations made by senior defense counsel C. E. Mene that the radio station is misrepresenting the facts, threatening to sue news anchor Sarjo Barrow for contempt of court if he persists in his line of reporting.
“We are disappointed that lawyer Mene did not reach out to us before making his accusations. The criticism he made is not justified,” Star FM General Manager Sara Camara told this reporter in an exclusive interview.
Last Wednesday, during the trial of the NIA 9, lawyer Mene took a swipe at veteran news broadcaster Sarjo Barrow for distorting the evidence in court, describing the move as ‘deliberate’. He went further to point out that Star FM Mandinka press reviewer is ‘exposing
his client to hostility.’ This prompted Justice Kumba Sillah to reiterate that the court is an open court, and journalists are free to
cover the proceedings. She then urged court reporters to be mindful of the accuracy and certainty of what they are reporting.
Sara Camara expressed his readiness to collaborate with the court in making available any audio file. “We will not jeopardize court proceedings,” he assured.
In an attempt to set the record straight, Star FM boss made it clear that the story in question was not read by Sarjo Barrow. “There was no news regarding NIA 9 on Monday. In Tuesday’s press review, he did not mention the name of the first accused person Yankuba Badjie,” he stated.
Star FM Chief Executive Officer Alpha Karaga said Sarjo Barrow has more than 20 years of experience in the media. “He is relying on local newspapers to present the press review in local language,” he added. “This is one of the country’s most-listened radio programs.”
The second-in-command of the Serrekunda-based FM station recalled that since 2012 Star FM has been doing the same thing, and nobody has ever made a complaint about the program. “Why complaints are coming in now? ” he quizzed while showing some signs of perplexity.
Alpha Karaga said the management of the radio and staff are doing their best to make sure what they are reporting is factual. He challenged lawyer Mene to provide evidence of his allegations.
The tussle between defense counsel Mene and Star FM comes against the backdrop of Gambia’s new democratic dispensation in which the new government has made pronouncements announcing an era of great hope for the media.
Gambia’s Information Minister Demba Ali Jawo, who is an emblematic figure of the battle for press freedom in Africa, has assured Gambia Press Union (GPU) of government commitment to freedom of the media, and promised to make sure that Yahya Jammeh’s liberticide laws are repealed in a near future.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN