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Jailed Burundi journo freed, resumes work

22 October 2013, 18:35

Nairobi - Burundian journalist Hassan Ruvakuki, previously jailed on terrorism charges, has been granted formal "conditional release" allowing him to return to work, Reporters Without Borders said on Tuesday.

Ruvakuki, who works for French radio station RFI's Swahili service and local broadcaster Bonesha FM, was arrested in November 2011 and handed a life sentence in June 2012, a ruling condemned by press rights groups.

He was initially convicted of planning an attack by an armed group that left dozens dead, and spreading news of it afterwards.

However, his sentence was cut to three years in January, and he was released in March on health grounds.

The justice ministry has allowed him to return to work.

"We are relieved that Ruvakuki is now officially free and allowed to resume working as a journalist," Reporters Without Borders [RSF] said in a statement, adding it would monitor his situation "to ensure that it does not represent too great a threat hanging over his journalistic work".

Ruvakuki, who has always maintained his innocence, told RSF he was "very happy" with the decision.

Burundi has been criticised for its tough stance towards the media, with the government passing a press law in June that weakened the protection of sources, and which was widely condemned by rights groups and the United Nations.



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