Senegal: MFWA wants 3-year sentence against Mauritanian journalist reviewed

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has called on authorities in Mauritania to review the three-year jail sentence recently slammed against a journalist for throwing his shoe at a state official.

In a statement obtained by PANA in Dakar, Senegal, on Tuesday, MFWA said a Magistrate’s Court in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital, made the ruling against journalist Cheikh Baye Ould Mohamed.

''The three-year jail term handed to Cheikh Baye Ould Mohamed is too severe for what is purely an act of misdemeanour. We urge the authorities to review the sentence, and possibly replace it with a reasonable fine,'' the statement noted.

MFWA said it considered the journalist’s reaction to the state official as unfortunate and unprofessional.

''A journalist is expected to believe in and respect the right of others to hold and express divergent opinions. Knowing this, Cheikh Baye Ould Mohamed should have shown restraint.''

According to the subregional press freedom body, the journalist who is the manager of the Meyadine news website, was part of the audience during a weekly press briefing on 30 June, 2016, which was addressed by a government spokesperson, Mohamed Lemine Ould Cheikh.

It said in the course of the state official’s speech, the journalist reportedly shot up from his seat and threw his shoe at Cheikh while shouting ''minister of lies.''

MFWA disclosed that the footwear however did not hit the government spokesperson.

The statement pointed out that the police on duty at the press conference reportedly overpowered the journalist and immediately arrested him.

He was kept in detention until 11 July, when he was put before a court on charges of ''insult and violence against a public officer in the line of duty.''

MFWA said the defence counsel of the journalist has described the decision of the court as ''insensitive'' and has indicated that they will appeal against the ruling.

''The judge did not even heed the call of the prosecution which asked for the minimum sentence. The defence team will file an appeal immediately against this insensitive judgment,'' the statement quoted lawyer Brahim Ould Ebetty as saying.
-0- PANA MLJ/VAO 19July2016

19 juillet 2016 14:30:41

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