29 December 2003


Cartoonist Ali Dilem receives four-month suspended jail sentence and is fined 100,000 dinars

Incident details

Ali Dilem


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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has condemned a four-month suspended jail sentence against cartoonist Ali Dilem, of the daily "Liberté". The sentence was handed down by an Algiers court on 23 December 2003.

"Once again we condemn the Algerian authorities' abusive use of Article 144b of the Criminal Code, which, using a mask of defamation, is aimed at gagging the independent press, which they consider to be too irreverent," said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard. "The government is thus trying to blunt the pen of one of the Algerian press's most trenchant cartoonists," he added.

Dilem was sentenced for defamation under Article 144b of the amended Criminal Code. He received a four-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 100,000 dinars (approx. US$1,430; 1,150 euros), in a case that pitted him against the Defence Ministry. Abrous Outoudert and Hacène Ouandjeli, the daily's former publisher and former managing editor respectively, were also sentenced in the case and fined 50,000 dinars (approx. US$715; 575 euros) each. The offending cartoon, dated 3 April 2002, was based on a dramatic incident that took place on 2 April when 21 soldiers were caught in a fake roadblock set up by two terrorists. The cartoon was captioned, "The criminal code protects the generals but not the soldiers". The Defence Ministry was of the opinion that the cartoon was defamatory. Dilem's lawyer, Counsellor Bourayou, considered the verdict particularly harsh. "They want to punish not only Dilem himself but also this form of expression," he told the daily "Le Matin".

Article 144b of the Criminal Code stipulates prison terms of two to 12 months and fines ranging from 50,000 to 250,000 dinars (approx. US$715 to 3,580; 575 to 2,870 euros) for referring to the president of the Republic in an insulting or defamatory manner. The same penalties are applied to these offences when committed against "Parliament, one of its two chambers, or the National People's Army (ANP)".


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