Kavumbagu was a victim of abuse of power-Burundi Media regulatory body

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Free Kavumbagu, received by friends

By Jean Luc Ndaruhutse

Bujumbura-It’s late in the afternoon of Monday, May 16, 2011 as the director of the online publication Netpress was released from prison where he was imprisoned for ten months.

Jean Claude Kavumbagu, who has become a star and nicknamed (JCK), has been set free and walked out of the prison escorted by members of his family, his lawyer and family representatives of Burundian journalists, said he was glad to recover his freedom after a long detention.

JCK’s release comes after the announcement Friday by the High Court of the City of Bujumbura condemning the journalist for eight months in prison and a fine of 100,000 Burundian francs (about U.S $ 80).

“It’s a feeling of joy of finding freedom,” said Kavumbagu. He said he was not satisfied with the sentence because he was convicted for practicing his profession. The director with Netpress, informed the press that he will not claim compensation for the additional two months he had already served before this grave verdict last Friday.

Kavumbagu’s lawyer called the ruling “” Relatively close to the truth.” But he regrets that the judge did not have the courage to acquit even if he had seen his client was “completely innocent”.

The Burundian president of the Union of Journalists Niyungeko Alexander expressed his satisfaction JCK regain his freedom. “It’s a sigh of relief. 10 months is enough.

“But the president of the UBJ, Kavumbagu should be acquitted. He reiterated the demand of Burundian journalists for the decriminalization of press offenses. “A country that imprisons journalists for press crimes, it is of a bygone era,” stressed A.Niyungeko.

Press regulatory body in Burundi (OPB), boss said that Kavumbagu is a victim of abuse of power altogether.

“It’s really sad,” said Innocent Muhoza president of the OPB. “We do not convict anyone for an opinion, however serious it is. It is no longer possible, “stressed Muhoza lamenting the fact that some authorities for the opinion expressed anger use their power to satisfy their egos.

Kavumbagu was arrested and jailed July 17, 2010 for an article published in his on-line publication NetPress one week before, which article questioned the ability of the security forces and defense to defend against possible attack by Somali al-shabbab on Burundi.

The journalist was accused of high treason for which the deputy public prosecutor had requested a life sentence. A charge that applies in times of war under the Penal Code in force in Burundi. This was not the case, say advocates and organizations of human rights, speaking of irregularities in his detention.

But according to the meaning of trial, Kavumbagu was convicted of disseminating information that may affect the credit of the state and national economy in violation of Article 50 of the press law. ”


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