- The criminal conviction handed to two Senegalese journalists on Tuesday for has met the fury of the New York-based media rights watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
A criminal court in the capital Dakar sentenced Director and Chief Editor, Jules Diop and Saliou Samb, of the privately-owned daily newspaper L'Observateur to six months suspended prison sentences and US $72,000 in damages.
Diop and Samb - whose only crime was to report on the contents of an anonymous letter critical of top security officials - were also ordered to publish the verdict in several newspapers.
An immediate appeal has been filed by the defense lawyer Boubacar Cissé.
"We call on the appeals court to overturn the criminal convictions and prison sentences of Jules Diop and Serigne Saliou Samb," said Tom Rhodes, CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator.
"Senegal’s pattern of criminal defamation prosecutions creates an intimidating atmosphere that leads to self-censorship. We urge President Abdoulaye Wade to honor his pledge to decriminalize defamation."
Diop and Samb were charged after the former Interior Minister, Ousmane Ngom, filed a complaint about over a January 11, 2008, story reporting on a letter reportedly addressed to Ngom and national Police Chief, Assane Ndoye. The letter was believed to have emanated from an anonymous group of digruntled police personnel.
Though the letter contained allegations of embezzlement and fraud in police management, it however published with reactions of the officials' reaction, Diop told CPJ.
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