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Second Sudanese reporter jailed for rape article

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 25 Jul 2011 15:14 GMT
Author: by Ulf Laessing, editing by Giles Elgood
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KHARTOUM, July 25 (Reuters) - A northern Sudanese court on Monday sentenced a second female journalist to one month in prison for writing an article about the alleged rape of an activist by security forces, her lawyer said.

Sudan's constitution guarantees press freedom, but several journalists have been detained without charge in recent months and papers are often subject to censorship.

The sentence imposed on Amal Habani is the second ruling since state prosecutors launched charges against several Sudanese journalists for writing about the alleged rape of a female activist after an anti-government protest earlier this year.

Another female colleague working for the same independent al-Jarida daily, Fatima Ghazali, was given the same verdict earlier this month.

Sudan's security forces have categorically denied the rape allegations.

"The judge handed out to her a verdict to pay a fine of 2,000 Sudanese pounds ($750) or go to prison for a month," laywer Nabil Abid told reporters after a Khartoum court session that was closed to the media.

"The judge said she had published an inaccurate report ... We'll appeal the ruling because we think it is wrong," the lawyer said.

"I will not pay the fine because the ruling is not fair," Habani told Reuters while waiting in court for police to escort her to prison.

In the same session, the court handed out a fine of 5,000 pounds ($1,800) against the newspaper, which was paid by the editor-in-chief, Saad el-Din Ibrahim, the lawyer said. (Writing by Ulf Laessing, editing by Giles Elgood)

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