Senegal: CPJ says Somali court sentences man to death for murdering 5 journalists

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said that a military court in Mogadishu, Somalia, has handed down the death sentence against Hassan Hanafi, a former journalist, having found him guilty of direct or indirect involvement in the killing five journalists on behalf of the armed militant group, Al-Shabaab.

In a statement, obtained here by PANA on Monday, CPJ revealed that the court sentenced Hanafi to death by execution which in Somalia is usually carried out by firing squad.

"Impunity in the murders of Somali journalists has long perpetuated a cycle of violence and fear, severely limiting the freedom of the press," remarked CPJ Africa Research Associate Kerry Paterson.

"While we support efforts to combat impunity, we call on Somali authorities to deliver justice through fair and transparent trials and by handing down humane sentences."

According to the statement, the military court found Hanafi guilty of being either partly or directly responsible for the killings of Mahad Ahmed Elmi, director of Capital Voice radio, a private station run by HornAfrik Media; Ali Iimaan Sharmarke, the founder and co-owner of HornAfrik Media; Said Tahliil Ahmed, director of HornAfrik for TV and radio stations; Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe, a reporter for Radio Shabelle; and Radio Mogadishu reporter Sheikh Nur Mohamed Abkey, the only murder to which Hanafi reportedly confessed.

The murders were said to have spanned the years 2007 to 2010 and all five victims  were listed in CPJ's database of journalists murdered in direct retaliation for their work.

The statement pointed out that Hanafi himself had worked as a radio reporter at Holy Quran Radio, and after joining Al-Shabaab, he was a reporter for Radio Andalus, a mouthpiece for the militant group, before joining its armed wing.

It was disclosed that Hanafi would regularly call Somali journalists to threaten them with death if they refused to join the militant group.

Somalia ranks at the top of CPJ's Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go unpunished.

The press freedom watchdog also said that it has documented the murders of 41 journalists in Somalia since 1992.

The statement, however, noted that in 2014 Human Rights Watch published a report on Somali military courts, indicating that they routinely fail to meet international fair-trial standards.
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 7March2016

07 march 2016 14:57:49

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