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Two independent journalists sentenced for alleged defamation

(JED/IFEX) - On 8 February 2008, a Nyarugenge court sentenced Charles Kabonero and Didas Gasana, managing editor and editor-in-chief, respectively, of "Umuseso", a privately-owned weekly newspaper published in Kigali, the capital city, to a one-year prison sentence suspended for two years, and a one million Rwandan franc (approx. US$2,000) fine.

The two journalists were found guilty of defaming Rujugiro Tribert, a South Africa-based businessman who is close to the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR).

"Umuseso" has been published sporadically since the independent media outlets' access to the advertising market was shut down. In May and June 2007, the paper published a series of articles describing Tribert's financial problems in South Africa, which according to "Umuseso" had led the businessman to flee the country in order to avoid charges.

Kabonero and Gasana's trial started in October 2007. They did not attend the most recent hearing on 29 January. Their lawyers have appealed the Nyarugenge court's decision.

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