Algeria: Two journalists sentenced for libelling Libyan president

Algeria: Two journalists sentenced for “libelling” Libyan president

The Writers in Prison Committee of English PEN is deeply depressed by the 31 October 2006 sentencing of journalists Ali Fadil and Naila Berrahal for allegedly libelling Libyan president Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi.

Fadil and Berrahal, editor and reporter respectively for the daily Ech-Chourou, were each handed a six-month prison sentence and a fine of 20,000 dinars (c. US$270). They were found guilty of “libel” in the wake of two Ech-Chourouk articles earlier in the year that implied that President al-Qadhafi had been involved in discussions with Tuareg tribal leaders keen to set up an independent state.

Representatives of the Libyan president initiated the legal action against the two journalists. The sentence has been appealed by the defendants’ lawyer, Khaled Bergheul, and thus has been suspended until a ruling on the appeal has been given.

Ech-Chorouk was also suspended for two months and the owners ordered to pay the Libyan president 500,000 dinars (c. US$6,750).

English PEN considers that the sentence handed to Ali Fadil and Naila Berrahal is absurd and disproportionate, and calls for the quashing of the criminal libel charge against the two journalists when their appeal is heard. PEN also urges the Algerian authorities to decriminalise offences such as libel so that similar cases might not arise in future.

Please send appeals:

–       Calling for the quashing of the criminal libel charge against the two journalists when their appeal is heard.

–       Urging the Algerian authorities to decriminalise offences such as libel so that similar cases might be avoided in future.

Appeals to:

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Algiers
Algeria
Fax: +213 21 686480
E-mail: president@el-mouradia.dz

M. Tayeb Belaiz
Minister of State for Justice and Keeper of the Seals
Ministry of Justice
8 Place Bir Hakem
16030 El Biar
Algiers
Algeria
Fax: +213 21 921701
E-mail: belaiztayeb@mjustice.dz

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/algeriatwojournalistssentenced/

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