West Africa: Burkina Faso Alert - Court Sentences Two Journalists to 12 Months Imprisonment

press release

A Magistrates' Court in Ouagadougou, the capital, on October 29, 2012 sentenced Roland Ouédraogo and Issa Lohé Konaté, both editors of privately-owned L'Ouragan newspaper to 12 months in prison on charges of defaming Placide Nikieme, the State Prosecutor.

The two journalists who were taken straight to prison to begin their sentence were also fined an amount of CFA 4 million (about US$ 7,800) in damages to Nikiema while the newspaper was suspended for a period of six months.

According to the Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent the sentence followed a complaint lodged by Nikiema at the Court accusing the newspaper and its editors of defaming him in a published article, which cited corrupt practices in the State Prosecutor's office.

The Court found them guilty and pronounced judgement on charges of "defamation, insults and contempt of court through the press."

According to the correspondent, a delegation of media professional groups and associations had on October 25, 2012 met with the State Prosecutor to request him to withdraw his complaint, but their efforts proved futile.

The situation has attracted a lot of concern among media professional groups in the country, who have expressed surprise at the verdict, describing it as very harsh since such a verdict has never been handed down to the press before.

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