Morocco fines Jazeera bureau chief over riots report

Human rights activists and journalists, who feared tougher sentence, smiled and congratulated Rachidi shortly after Rabat court's presiding judge Mohamed Alaoui read out the verdict.

Morocco fines Jazeera bureau chief over riots report

A Moroccan court on Friday fined Al Jazeera's Rabat bureau chief 50,000 Moroccan Dirhams ($6,860) for reporting what it said was "false information" that protesters were killed in clashes with police.

The government denied that protesters were killed last month when police moved in to break up a week-long demonstration over poverty and joblessness by youths in the port of Sidi Ifni in southwest Morocco.

Moroccan prosecutors charged Al Jazeera's Hassan Rachidi and Human Rights Centre official Brahim Sbaalil on June 13 with publishing "false information and conspiracy" under article 42 of the kingdom's press code.

Rachidi who risked being jailed for up to six months said the Qatari-based television station merely reported comments at a news conference held by the Moroccan Human Rights Centre that there had been deaths in the clashes.

He added that the reports were balanced and gave prominence to official denials of any deaths.

Human rights activists and journalists, who feared tougher sentence, smiled and congratulated Rachidi shortly after Rabat court's presiding judge Mohamed Alaoui read out the verdict.

On Thursday, the same court jailed human rights activist Sbaalil for six months for telling Al Jazeera and other media organisations that security forces had killed and raped protesters during riots in the southern town last month.

The government has said any abuses by security forces, if proven, would be severely punished.

Reuters

Last Mod: 11 Temmuz 2008, 14:48
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