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Heavy fines but no jail time for editor convicted of defamation

(RSF/IFEX) - Jean Bosco Gasasira, the editor of the fortnightly "Umuvugizi", has been convicted on charges of defamation and invasion of privacy but has been acquitted on the more serious charge of insult and abuse, for which he had been facing a possible sentence of more than two years in prison.

In its verdict and sentencing issued on 13 November 2009, the Kigali court also refrained from ordering "Umuvugizi"'s closure, which had been requested by the prosecutor's office. The lawsuit stemmed from a complaint by a prosecutor and the head of the National Council of Women over an article claiming they had had an extramarital affair.

The court fined Gasasira 10,000 Rwandan francs (approx. US$20) on the defamation charge and 1 million Rwandan francs (approx. US$2,000) on the privacy invasion charge. It also ordered him to pay 1 million Rwandan francs in damages to each of the plaintiffs (a total of US$4,000) and 400,000 Rwandan francs in legal costs. In all, Gasasira will have to pay US$6,000.

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