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Newspaper correspondent faces libel charges

(Adil Soz/IFEX) - On 18 September 2008, a Petropavlovsk City Court heard a case of libel charges brought against Victor Miroshnichenko, a correspondent for "Vremya" newspaper in the North Kazakhstan region. The journalist faces charges under Article 129, p. 3 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Sarsenbay Davletov, deputy chief of the Department of Internal Affairs in North Kazakhstan, filed a complaint against Miroshnichenko in connection with a 10 July article by the journalist entitled, "Protection racket for colonel". In the article, the journalist alleged that, since February, employees of the Petropavlovsk Department of Internal Affairs had been collecting money that went towards payments for Davletov's apartment. Miroshnickenko also reported on other illegal requests for money from officers of the North Kazakhstan Department of Internal Affairs.

Davletov alleged that the information in the article was false and discredited his honour and dignity. He is asking for 100,000 tenge (approx. US$835) in "damages" from the newspaper's editorial staff and Miroshnichenko.

City Court Judge G. Zholdasova admitted the complaint for consideration. The journalist was required to promise in writing that he will not leave the area and he must inform the court about each of his assignments.

This is the third attempt to launch a libel suit against Miroshnichenko. In each of the previous cases, the plaintiffs were forced to withdraw their complaints after the journalist was able to prove that the information contained in his articles was based on fact.

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