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Sentences against editor and cartoonist upheld, then overturned

(CRNI/IFEX) - On 29 December 2009, AFP reported that a court in Casablanca, Morocco, upheld earlier jail terms and monetary fines issued against editor Taoufiq Bouachrine and cartoonist Khalid Gueddar.

The report says that each journalist must pay a fine of 4,400 euros, in addition to damages of 260,000 euros. Both were also given suspended jail sentences of four years.

Reuters, however, also reported that Prince Moulay Ismail dropped his case against the journalists, rescinding their fines and, apparently, the jail terms. The prince said that they had apologised.

The basis of the case against the two journalists was a cartoon that was printed in the 26 September issue of "Akhbar Al Youm" newspaper. In the cartoon, Prince Ismail was shown in what was seen by some as a Nazi salute and the Moroccan state star in the background was seen as a parody of the Star of David.

The authorities also closed down the newspaper, sending all staff home indefinitely. This is the first case of the authorities closing a paper in Morocco since the 1960s.

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