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Journalist's prison sentence commuted, fine increased and complaint against police dismissed

(ANHRI/IFEX) - An Arrahmeneyia Court decided to commute an original sentence of six months' imprisonment and a fine of £100 EGP (approx. US$18) to a single fine of £200 EGP (approx. US$36) against Kamal Mural, a journalist for the weekly "AlFajr" newspaper. The court also dismissed the journalist's civil claim regarding an incident in which he was assaulted by police officers during the course of his work.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) stated that, despite the change in the penalty, the journalist is still being punished by the application of a fine. Moreover, Murad was the victim of an assault and the court failed to hear him on this matter.

Murad was arrested on 17 June 2008 while covering a story on farmers in the village of Muharram, in Arrahmaneyia (in the Nile Delta). The journalist took photographs of police officers beating farmers and forcing them to sign leases with a land owner.

The police officers assaulted Murad and and threatened him with imprisonment, then proceeded to arrest him. Three hours after his detention, Murad was surprised to learn that he had been accused of assaulting the police officers and inciting the peasants against the security forces.

Murad submitted a complaint to the prosecutor general immediately after his release, asking for an investigation into the assault on him by the police officers, a request which has thus far been ignored. ANHRI therefore demands an immediate inquiry into Murad's complaint, which was submitted almost a year ago.

ANHRI said, "The new ruling is a blow to freedom of the press and emphasizes the control the security services have on all aspects of life in Egypt, which makes the future for freedom of the press gloomy."

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