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Burundi1 June 2006

Journalist jailed for publicly criticising the government

Reporters Without Borders has requested that Burundi’s intelligence service drop its legal proceedings against Burundi Press Agency (Agence burundaise de presse, ABP) journalist Aloys Kabura. Kabura has been detained in the central prison of Ngozi (northern Burundi) since 31 May 2006. The journalist, who recently wrote an article implicating the police in sugar smuggling, was apprehended for comments he made in a bar in Kayanza (northern Burundi), publicly criticising the government.

Kabura was arrested late on 31 May in Kayanza by the Burundi Police, who had an arrest warrant from the city prosecutor, Jean-Paul Manwagari. His arrest arose from a charge of "rebellion" filed by the national documentation service (an intelligence agency), who accused the journalist of having made "defamatory statements about the government in the presence of witnesses on 21 April." Kabura is accused of having criticised the government’s attitude and the brutality shown by the police when 20 journalists were confined illegally in the home of a deputy in Bujumbura for half a day on 17 April. According to the penal code, the journalist is subject to a sentence of two months in prison and/or a fine of 5,000 Burundi francs (approx. 4 euros).

The ABP journalist, who claims to have been under surveillance and threatened by police, had written a news report in January on the smuggling of sugar to neighbouring Rwanda, which was allegedly covered up by the police.

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