Cairo June 11, 2012
ANHRI denounced the one year jail sentence and fine of 200,000 ryals (750 euros) that a court in the central province of al-Bayda imposed on reporter Majed Karout allegedly for posting a picture on his Facebook page, which he didn’t, including information on corruption in the telecommunications corporation and in the province of al-Bayda.
“Even if Karout is the one who published these information, this disproportionate sentence is shocking by all means and a major setbackas it disregards all international conventions which call for an end to the imprisonment of journalists in publishing cases as a fine is enough,” said ANHRI that added “The details of the case reveal a serious breach of the right to a fair trial, which suggest the intention to imprison Karout, as well they reveal the ignorance of the mechanism of the social network sites.”
The case events began on February 18, 2011 when Karout was tagged in a picture published on Facebook that included information about al-Bayda telecommunication corporation director; Mohamed Moussa al-Qarqoushi, being involved in corruption cases. Attached to the picture was a letter from staff members of the corporation to senior Yemeni officials including the minister of communication. The letter consists of several pages revealing many violations committed by the Director of the Foundation to personal enrichment.
Two days later and as a response to the accusations of corruption, Mr. Al-Qarqoushi and Kamal al-Najjar; CFO of the foundation, filed a lawsuit against Karout followed by serious judicial proceedings after the primary al-Bayda court received an indictment from al-Bayda prosecutor. Three sessions were held, the last of them was almost five months ago however, the journalist was not called to any of them as a disregard for the fundamental rights of the defense. He knew
eventually of judicial proceedings against him after the publication
of a call to him in the official newspaper of the Republic.
The session was postponed, after his coming in the hearing date, due to the absence of the judge who was on leave! Upon the return of the judge on June 4, a fourth session was held without notifying the journalist. During this session, he was sentenced to one year for “publishing openly and malevolently news and reports attributed falsely to the victims al-Qarqoushi and al-Najjar. “
It is worth mentioning that Karout is not the picture owner or the one who uploaded it. It was published on his wall , which is the norm on Facebook, as per the journalist words.
“Karout was shocked to receive a call from a colleague in the court, while he was covering a mass march, that a hearing session is being held now regarding his case. When he arrived, he was told the session is over and the judge pronounced the verdict. Karout Submitted an appeal against the ruling to the court because of the allegations which the case was built upon and the ambiguity of the prosecution and trial procedures.
“The case and the sentence are mere attempts by the concerned parties of the Yemeni regime which is struggling to stay in order to limit the freedoms that built the principles of the Yemeni revolution.” said ANHRI.
“The conduct of the trial reveals the incredible violations of the right to a fair trial as well the court’s disregard in mandating experts to verify the claim is another failure” added ANHRI.
ANHRI calls the Yemeni authorities to reconsider its policy against journalists, and review all laws restricting the freedoms of press,freedom of opinion and expression.
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