Sudan’s Press and Publications Court in Khartoum on Thursday ordered a total of SDG 34,000 (*$1,870) in fines against El Jareeda newspaper in a case involving corruption in Hasaheisa locality lands in El Gezira state.
The Press and Publications Court sentenced El Jareeda editor-in-chief of Ashraf Abdelaziz and writer Hasan Warrag to a fine of SDG 10,000 ($550) each. The newspaper has also been ordered them each to pay SDG 7,000 ($385) compensation to the complainant Laila Ali, the employee in Hasaheisa locality lands.
The court convicted them despite testimony by a security official and a former executive in favour of the newspaper. Both Abdelaziz and Warrag refused to pay the fine and opted to go to jail.
Defence lawyer Ahmad El Shukri said that the editor-in-chief of El Jareeda newspaper Ashraf Abdelaziz was convicted under article 159 of the Criminal Code of defamation of character.
He said he would appeal the verdict, because the suspicion of corruption against the complainant was clear and the director of security and land of Hasaheesa confirmed the complainant's ownership of a piece of land she is not illegible to, but her name was withdrawn from the land records.
Warrag wrote in his well-read column that Laila Ali, an employee in the land department in Hasaheisa was granted a piece of residential land in an exception, while she is not illegible among the list of land beneficiaries in the housing plan.
Sudanese Journalists Network
The Sudanese Journalists Network condemned the trial of Abdelaziz and Hassan Warrag under the criminal code as a clear violation of international covenants that prohibit the prosecution of newspapers except through civil courts.
In a statement, the network called on all the local, regional and international organisations concerned with human rights and freedoms to intervene and pressure the authority to stop such serious violations aimed at terrorising journalists and preventing them from dealing with and publishing corruption issues.
The network also denounced the security forces' continued holding of El Tayyar until 6 am for the tenth day in a row.
He was arrested with others while covering the peaceful march of the opposition in Khartoum against the rise of prices and the hunger budget.
* Based on the official US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS)