SOMALIA: Puntland court sentences Media director to 6 years

Published: August 14, 2010

Abdifatah Jama Mire, the deputy director of Horseed Media, was sentenced to six years in jail and $500 dollars fine by the Bosaso district court, on Saturday.
Abdifatah Jama Mire, was arrested late Friday after Puntland’s security forces stormed Horseed Media office in Bosaso, the commercial capital of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland State.
The forces raided the FM station after it broadcasted an interview with Islamist commander Mohamed Said Atom whose militants are fighting the Puntland administration in Galgala area.
Puntland authorities refused to arrange a lawyer for the Media director, he was also denied by legal council as he was brought to Bosaso district court, early on Saturday morning.
The state prosecutor Mohamud Mohamed Yusuf Shimbir (the military Prosecutor) accused Mr.Mire of interviewing the commander of insurgent groups fighting with Puntland forces. He called the interview an illegal support to a terrorist movement. The state prosecutor Mr.Shimbir demanded a 3 years prison sentence for Abdifatah Jama Mire. The prosecutor did not provide any evidence to the court.
Mr.Mire told the judge, “What we did is our Job as journalists, we are objective and have the right to interview all parties. We obey the law, the local and international journalist’s ethics, I have done nothing wrong, as media house we do NOT aid or support any group.”
After the short hearing the newly named Bosaso district judge Farah Hassan Ismail, sentenced Abdifatah Jama Mire to six years in prison and 500 dollars fine, more stiff sentencing than the prosecution have demanded. The judge did not indicate whether the defendant can appeal the sentencing. During the hearing the media were not allowed into the court room.
Colleagues and Mire’s family have been trying to arrange a legal council for Abdifatah, they called the verdict unjust and illegal according to the constitution of Puntland state, which guarantees freedom of speech and press.
The ruling is expected to be appealed to the Bosaso District Court of Appeals and eventually the Puntland Supreme Court.
It is not the first time that journalists are personally targeted by the Puntland authorities.
On Tuesday, Puntland has suspended VOA Somali services correspondent Nuh Muse Birjeb in Garowe.
The Journalist received a decree banning him from reporting in the region from the Puntland Minister of Information. The semi-autonomous did not explain the reason behind their suspension.
In December 2009, Mohamed Yassin Ishak, the Voice of America reporter in Galkacyo, was arrested by the Puntland authorities, after a midnight raid on his home by security agents. One month earlier, Mohamed Yasin Ishak suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder, after a police officer fired on his car while passing through police checkpoint in his home town of Galkacyo.
Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. In southren Somalia, Islamists have banned broadcasting BBC and VOA. In May, Al-Qaeda linked group of Al-Shabaab looted Somaliweyn Radio – an independent station house – in Mogadishu. the militants took FM transmitters and since that the station remians off air.
Source: Horseed Media

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