26 October 2011

Journalist sentenced to jail for first time ever in island-state


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A news editor fainted in a courthouse after he was sentenced to three months in jail following his coverage of a fraud case, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The detention marks the first time a Mauritian journalist has been sentenced to prison, according to CPJ.

Dharmanand Dooharika, editor of "Samedi Plus", was convicted of bringing the Supreme Court into "disrepute" on 17 October, says RSF. He fainted due to high blood pressure and was taken to hospital, according to local news reports.

In July and August 2010, Dooharika quoted a disgraced businessman and former lawyer, Dev Hurnam, who accused a Supreme Court justice of bias after he lost his client's fraud case against financial services giant Barclays. Dooharika wrote an article arguing that Hurman's claims, which were widely covered by the media at the time, should be investigated, says CPJ.

The case was "not about the administration of justice but about shielding the Supreme Court from criticism," says CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita.

The parent company of "Samedi Plus" and another radio station that reported on the accusations were additionally sentenced to US $10,300 and $6,900 respectively for contempt of court.

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