Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014, 11:39 GMT

Burundi reporter sentenced to life imprisonment

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 20 June 2012
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Burundi reporter sentenced to life imprisonment, 20 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe47012c.html [accessed 25 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Nairobi, June 20, 2012 – A Burundian appeals court must reverse the ruling against a journalist sentenced to life in prison on vague terrorism charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Hassan Ruvakuki was sentenced today to life in prison. (Iwacu-burundi)Hassan Ruvakuki was sentenced today to life in prison. (Iwacu-burundi)

A High Court in the eastern town of Cankuzo today found Hassan Ruvakuki, a reporter for local radio station Bonesha FM and French government-funded broadcaster Radio France Internationale, and 13 other defendants guilty of "participating in terrorist attacks" under the country's penal code, Patrick Nduwimana, the interim director at Bonesha FM, told CPJ.

The verdict was based on Ruvakuki's November 2011 trip to a rebel-held area along Burundi's border with Tanzania, during which he recorded an audio statement from Pierre Claver Kabirigi, a former police officer who claimed to be the leader of a new rebel group, the Front for the Restoration of Democracy-Abanyagihugu. When Ruvakuki returned to the capital, Bujumbura, security agents arrested him, searched his home, and questioned him over his alleged links to the rebel group, according to news reports.

Ruvakuki's defense counsel said the judges had not been impartial during the trial and that the government was pressuring the court to find a conviction, according to local journalists. Defense lawyer Onesimus Kabayabaya plans to file an appeal once he receives the court ruling, Nduwimana told CPJ.

"It's the duty of any reporter to interview both sides in a conflict," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "That is what Hassan Ruvakuki tried to do. We call on the court of appeals to overturn the conviction."

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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