Libya journalist sentenced to 5 years jail for defamation
Amara Abdallah al-Khitabi, 68, editor-in-chief of the private Al-Umma newspaper, was sentenced in absentia
A Tripoli court has sentenced a Libyan journalist to five years in jail and slapped him with a hefty fine for defamation and insulting the judiciary, his lawyer said Friday.
Amara Abdallah al-Khitabi, 68, editor-in-chief of the private Al-Umma newspaper, was sentenced in absentia after publishing an online list of the names of 87 judges and prosecutors he claimed were corrupt.
He was arrested in December 2012, one month after the list appeared, before being granted conditional release in April 2013 on health grounds.
According to his lawyer Ramadan Salam, the court delivered its verdict on August 17 when neither he nor Khitabi were present.
“My client wasn't informed of the judgment until this week,” Salam told AFP.
He said that most courts in Tripoli were closed during August due to fighting between rival militant groups in the capital.
Salam said he would lodge an appeal and argued that Khitabi had been sentenced as “an act of revenge”.
In addition to five years in jail, Khitabi was fined 250,000 Libyan dinars ($210,000, 170,000 euros) and banned from practising journalism for the duration of his sentence, Salam added.
Rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and media watchdog Reporters Without Borders have condemned Khitabi's trial.
Dozens of private newspapers and independent television channels emerged following the 2011 toppling of Libya's leader Moamer Kadhafi, who had stifled the media during his four-decade rule.
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