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RFI journalist sentenced to 10 years in prison by Cameroon military court

© RFI file picture| RFI correspondent Ahmed Abba has been held on terror-related charges in Cameroon since July 30, 2015.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-04-25

The Cameroon-based correspondent of Radio France Internationale (RFI), FRANCE 24's sister radio station, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court for "failing to report acts of terrorism" and other charges. RFI is appealing the ruling.

The Yaoundé military court also ordered RFI’s Ahmed Abba to pay 55.7 million Central African francs, which is the equivalent of around €85,000.

“Abba is found not guilty of condoning terrorism, [but] guilty of acts of not denouncing terrorism acts and laundering terrorism acts [blanchiment de produits du terrorisme],” the president of the court said as he read out the ruling.

RFI on Monday sent out a statement expressing “dismay” over the verdict, noting that the charges related to Abba condoning terrorism were only dropped after the Paris-headquartered broadcaster was able to provide sufficient evidence to prove his innocence.

“Abba’s lawyers are appealing this incomprehensible decision," it said of the other terror-related charges, adding: “Given that no evidence has been provided in the case, this conviction is just about a journalist having exercised his profession.”

“Beyond Ahmed Abba’s conviction, it is the freedom to inform and to be informed that has been called into question here. RFI calls on a general global mobilisation of all those around the world who are fighting to defend this fundamental right.”

Abba, who reported for RFI’s Hausa language service from Cameroon’s restive north, was arrested in the Maroua region in the far north, in July 2015, on suspicion of having collaborated with militant Islamist group Boko Haram and withholding information in connection with his coverage of attacks by the terrorist group from Cameroonian authorities.

Facing the death penalty over the alleged crimes, Abba says he was held and tortured by Cameroonian intelligence services for a period of three months before he was transferred to the prison in Yaoundé.

Cameroon introduced capital punishment for involvement in terror attacks or complicity in terrorism in a controversial law passed in 2014.

Date created : 2017-04-24

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