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Two radio journalists sentenced in Somaliland

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) denounces the 9 August 2009 court decision against two radio journalists in Hargeisa.

On 9 August, Hargeisa Regional Court sentenced journalists Mohamed Osman Mire, widely known as "Siyad", and Ahmed Suleyman Dhuhul, director and news editor of Horyaal Radio respectively, to prison terms of six months and a fine of 300,000 Somaliland shillings (approx. US$45) each.

Judge Faysal Abdullahi Ismail convicted the two journalists for reporting at a radio station, which is unlawfully operating in Somaliland, and disseminating information that resulted in loss of life and property.

The judge also said that the journalists defended charges leveled against them by the prosecutor, who said that they were behind a murderous attack that took place in the road between Gabiley and Borame. The prosecutor failed to prove these charges, Judge Faysal said in the courtroom.

The journalists subsequently asked to buy the prison terms. According to Somaliland law, convicted people are allowed to pay money for prison terms of less than one year.

Judge Faysal announced that each of the two journalists bought their prison term by paying an amount of 2,500,000 Somaliland shillings (approx. US$373). As a result, journalists Mire and Dhuhul were released by the Hargeisa Regional Court.

The Hargeisa Regional Court completed the hearing of this case on 6 August, and set 9 August as the day for the announcement of the court's decision.

Somaliland authorities arrested the two Horyaal Radio journalists after the station aired, on the evening of 10 July, a closed-door meeting between Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin and twenty-five elders from Gabiley town, which reportedly ended in disagreement, according to trustworthy sources in Somaliland.

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