14 April 1998


Pius Njawe sentence reduced

Incident details

Pius Njawe


legal action

(IPI/IFEX) - On the morning of 14 April 1998, Douala Court of Appeals Judge
Minko issued his decision in the appeal of Pius Njawe's conviction for
publishing a story concerning the health of President Paul Biya. Njawe was
appealing against his two year prison sentence and 500,000 Central African
Francs (CFA) fine. The text of Minko's decision is not yet available.

**Updates IFEX alerts of 26 March, 20 February, and 20, 14 and 13 January

Reports indicate that the conviction was affirmed and the sentence reduced
to one year imprisonment and a 300,000 CFA fine.

IPI Director, Johann P. Fritz, said that this decision was simply not
acceptable and represented a flagrant breach of international covenants.

IPI will therefore continue to exert pressure on Cameroon to overturn this
verdict. Attorney Terry Maguire will arrive in Douala in the next few days
to make the necessary preparations to bring the case to the Supreme Court of
Cameroon on behalf of IPI and all other interested parties.

Background Information

Pius Njawe, editor-in-chief of the independent Cameroonian newspaper "Le
Messager", was sentenced on 13 January 1998 to two years in prison without
parole and fined 500,000 CFA (5,000 French Francs) for 'spreading false
news' in connection with an article that appeared in the 22 December 1997
edition of his paper. The court found Njawe guilty under the criminal code
for publishing a piece in which a
"Le Messager" journalist quoted sources saying President Biya had suffered a
heart attack while watching a football match.


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