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Journalist sentenced to two years in jail with option of a fine for sedition

(MISA/IFEX) - On 22 October 2008 the High Court of Lesotho sentenced broadcast journalist Thabo Thakalekoala to two years in prison for sedition or alternatively a fine of M200 (US$18).

Thakalekoala was charged with sedition after he read a letter on air which called for the arrest of Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his senior officials for corruption. High Court Judge, Gabriel Mofolo sentenced Thakalekoala to a further two years for criminal defamation and subversion. The second two year sentence was wholly suspended on condition that Thakalekoala does not commit a similar offence in the next three years.

The state contends that the letter referred to Mosisili. Thakalekoala was arrested outside Harvest FM?s offices on 22 June 2007 and then charged with treason. In his defence, Thakalekoala told the court that he read the letter after receiving threatening calls from people who claimed to have written it. He also stated that he did not think that the letter referred to the Prime Minister. Thakalekoala has since paid the fine.

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