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Court sentences three journalists to prison

(RSF/IFEX) - On 22 February 2010, a court in the Kigali district of Nyarugenge imposed jail sentences on Charles Kabonero, the publisher of the weekly "Umuseso", Didas Gasana, its editor, and Richard Kayigamba, one of its reporters, after finding them guilty of invading privacy in one of their articles. Kabonero got 12 months, while the other two got six months.

"We firmly condemn these sentences, which deprive the newspaper's staff of three of its most important members," Reporters Without Borders said. "The authorities clearly want to silence one of the country's few independent publications."

The three journalists were also ordered to pay a fine of 1 million Rwandan francs (US$1,800). They have not yet been taken into custody to begin serving their sentences and have 30 days to appeal. The court did not, fortunately, order the newspaper's closure. Kabonero and Gasana were previously given 12-month suspended jail sentences in another case.

Reporters Without Borders has written to French President Nicolas Sarkozy drawing his attention to the press freedom situation in Rwanda and asking him to raise it with his counterpart, Paul Kagame, during the official visit to Rwanda that he is due to begin in three days.
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