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Policeman ordered to pay damages to journalist he assaulted

(RSF/IFEX) - On 16 December 2008, a court in the southeastern town of Jacmel convicted police officer Bastien Novembre of assaulting Radio Express reporter Fritzer Philogène and ordered him to pay Philogène 100,000 gourdes (approx. US$2,500) in damages. If Novembre, a member of the elite Departmental Unit for Maintaining Order (UDMO), fails to pay he could go to prison for one year. A report by his superiors also recommended disciplinary measures.

On 29 October, Novembre attacked Philogène after the journalist surprised him near the Jacmel police station beating a suspect. The secretary-general of the Association of Haitian Journalists (AJH), Jacques Desrosiers, who was also a plaintiff in the case, described the verdict as a "major precedent" in the fight against impunity for physical attacks on journalists.

Reporters Without Borders said: "We regard the sentence imposed on Novembre as fair and proportionate to the offence committed. It should send a major signal to those who abuse their authority in their relations with journalists."

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