Dutchman arrested in Gambia for insulting president

2nd April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The man arrested on Saturday and charged with sedition had lied about his nationality and is actually Dutch not British.

BANJUL – Police in Gambia said Wednesday that a man arrested for allegedly insulting President Yahya Jammeh had lied about his nationality and is actually Dutch not British.

According to the charges the man, identified as Rene Beulen, complained on Saturday at a police post that Jammeh had increased taxi fares for white people and accused the Gambian leader of being "too greedy and corrupt".

Beulen pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday but could not make bail and was detained, according to police sources at Banjul's notorious Mile Two prison, pending his trial date of 9 April.

Under Gambian law, sedition or the incitement of resistance to lawful authority is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine.

Police said Beulen had been questioned again on Wednesday following inquiries from British diplomats.

"He confessed that he was a Dutch national and not British. He also told the panel of investigators, including the British officials, that he stayed in Britain for the past 10 years but that he is not from that country," a senior police source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The Dutch foreign ministry confirmed to AFP that a Dutch national had been arrested in the Gambia but declined to give a name or any information regarding the charges.

In December 2008, a British missionary couple became the first foreigners to be slapped with a jail sentence for sedition in the west African nation.

They were ordered to serve 12 months in prison with hard labour after pleading guilty to criticising the president.

Gambia, a tiny country inside Senegal, has one of the worst human rights records in west Africa. Jammeh, an outspoken military officer and former wrestler, has ruled the former British colony since seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1994.

The country is a popular tourist destination with some 100,000 tourists visiting the Gambia each year.

AFP / Expatica

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