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Chad gives journo suspended jail term

30 August 2013, 07:28

N'Djamena - A court in Chad's capital N'Djamena on Thursday sentenced the managing editor of news weekly Abba Garde to a suspended jail term and a fine for criticising the regime.

Avenir Moussey De la Tchire, who has been behind bars since 7 May, was convicted of "incitement to hatred and a popular uprising" after the publication of articles challenging President Idriss Deby Itno and his government.

De la Tchire was given a suspended prison sentence of two years and ordered to pay a fine of one million CFA francs (about $2 000), in the wake of the convictions of two other journalists.

On 19 August, the secretary-general of the Union of Chadian Journalists (UJT), Eric Topona, and a political blogger, Jean Laokole, were both sentenced to suspended prison terms of three years.

They were accused of "defamation and unsuccessfully plotting to disrupt public order" for exchanging emails in which they allegedly sought to call for a popular uprising, charges they denied.

Since May, at least three people have been killed and several lawmakers arrested in N'Djamena in connection with an alleged coup plot that Chadian authorities say they foiled in the central African country.

According to the media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders), which has launched a petition to obtain their release, the three journalists "are not plotters" but "authors of independent news or close to the opposition, who ensure critical coverage of the situation in Chad".

Deby has ruled Chad since 1990, when he ousted his predecessor Hissene Habre, who is now being tried in Senegal for genocide. In the past two decades, the Deby regime has announced foiling several coup bids and fought off rebel insurgencies allegedly launched from neighbouring Sudan.



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