Four journalists of the Burundi’s impartial media Iwacu Press Group:(L to R) Christine Kamikazi, Agnes Ndirubusa, Egide Harerimana and Terence Mpozenzi go away on the High Court in Bubanza, western Burundi, on December 30, 2019 after attending a trial for complicity in endangering the inner safety of the state.
Tchandrou Nitanga / AFP
Burundi prosecutors Monday sought 15-year jail phrases for 4 reporters and their driver who have been detained masking an incursion of rebels from DR Congo and charged with endangering state safety.
The journalists have been working for Iwacu, one among Burundi’s few impartial media shops after they have been arrested on October 22.
A witness within the northwestern province of Bubanza, the place they have been arrested, advised AFP on situation of anonymity the lengthy jail phrases have been wanted two hours of deliberations.
The supply stated the prosecution primarily based the hefty sentencing demand largely on a WhatsApp alternate of messages between one of many reporters and a colleague primarily based overseas by which the previous wrote: “We are heading for Bubanza … to help the rebels.”
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An additional demand was for the detained to be denied their civic rights for 20 years.
Judgement was stayed for one month.
“We had the time to assure our clients’ defence. We hope they will be acquitted purely and simply,” defence counsel Clement Retirakiza, advised reporters.
Police say at the least 14 rebels from the Burundian RED-Tabara group, primarily based throughout the border in japanese DR Congo, have been killed in an assault the day the journalists have been arrested.
The rebels say they killed a dozen safety personnel.
The Reporters Without Borders NGO, which locations Burundi a lowly 159th on its world record of press freedom, says these detained have been merely doing their job whereas Human Rights Watch has referred to as for his or her launch.
Observers see the case in opposition to the 4 as a sign of toughness by the Burundi authorities simply 5 months forward of elections.
The nation is at present mired in violent unrest sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza saying in April 2015 he was controversially standing for a 3rd time period. He received re-election in July.