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ANHRI obtains acquittal for journalists in defamation suit

(ANHRI/IFEX) - ANHRI's legal aid unit obtained an acquittal on 26 June 2011 from Al-Agoza Misdemeanor Court, presided by Judge Mohamed El-Sawy, in a case against four journalists from the newspaper "Al-Fajr" accused of defaming and violating the sanctity of Shikh Yusuf Al-Badri's life.

Al-Badri filed a complaint in 2009 against Fatima Al- Zahra, Sally Hassan and Mohamed Al-Baz, journalists at "Al- Fajr" newspaper, and Adel Hammouda, editor–in-chief of the newspaper, accusing them of violating his privacy, libel, slander, and of broadcasting a document without his permission.

Al-Badri's complaint was based on Article 309 of the Penal Code. The complaint stemmed from a news story published in issue 185, 1 December 2009, of "Al Fajr" entitled "Adventure in Maadi: A ruqyah in the house of Yusuf Al-Badri for 350 pounds".

Al-Agoza Misdemeanor Court acquitted all the accused of the charge of violating the sanctity of personal life, while sentencing Al-Zahra and Al-Baz to a fine of 5000 pounds for insult and slander. The court also approved a fine of 5000 pounds to be paid by Hammouda as a punishment for his negligence in supervision.

Lawyers from ANHRI's legal aid unit have attended all hearings on the case since it was launched in 2009. The legal aid unit will appeal the fines against the journalists.

"The Court's decision is a partial move forward on the road to protecting press freedom and freedom of opinion and expression, which are the main guarantors of the current transitional stage in Egypt. We call upon the Court of Appeal to complete this step and repeal the fines against the journalists," said ANHRI.

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