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Sudan24 January 2002

An editor in chief liable to prison for publishing false information

In a letter addressed to Interior minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, Reporters sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders - RSF) protested against the imposition of an outrageous fine on Hussein Khojali, editor in chief of Alwan. "It is unacceptable to sentence this journalist to a 500 000-Sudanese dinar fine (2 200 euros) even for publishing false information. The sum is totally out of proportion with the misdeed committed and compared to the standard of living in Sudan", declared Robert Ménard, general secretary of the organisation.

According to the information gathered by RSF, Hussein Khojali, editor in chief of the daily Alwan, was sentenced on January 23 to a 500 000-Sudanese dinar fine (2 200 euros) for publishing false information. In the case of non-payment, the journalist is liable to one-year imprisonment. The Alwan newspaper has been fined 700 000 Sudanese dinar (3 080 euros). According to the criminal court of Khartoum, Hussein Khojali published an article in which he stated the departure from Khartoum of the Transports minister Lam Akol, to join in the South the rebels fighting against the government. Another journalist of the daily, Hadiyah Ali, was sentenced to a 200 000-Sudanese dinar fine (880 euros) for the same reasons. He is also liable to six-month imprisonment if he does not pay. Alwan has decided to appeal against both these decisions. Besides, two other journalists of Alwan have been acquitted.

Already on January 16, Nhial Bol, publication manager of Khartoum Monitor, had been sentenced to a 500 000-Sudanese dinar fine (2 200 euros) for writing in Khartoum Monitor that the railway state company was turning a blind eye on the transportation of people abducted by Arab-slave merchants. In the case of non-payment, he will spend six months in prison. The daily had also been condemned to a 1,5-million-Sudanese dinar fine (6 597 euros).

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