Burundi authority on Monday charged four journalists for breaching state security. The accused journalists were denied bail, according to local media reports.
The four reporters, Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Térence Mpozenzi and Egide Harerimana, who work for Iwacu, one of the few independent media outlets still operating in Burundi, and their driver, Adolphe Masabarakiza, were arrested in Musigati, a town in the northwestern province of Bubanza near the edge of the Kibira rainforest, Reporters Without Borders stated.
If convicted, the state prosecutor has called for 15-year jail sentences and the seizure of their belongings, including a car they were using when they were arrested. He also called on the judge to deny them the right to vote for five years, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the arrest of four Burundian journalists and their driver while they were covering clashes between rebels and government forces in northwestern Burundi on 22 October, and calls for their immediate release.
They have been accuse of “complicity in the breach of the State’s internal security.” The ruling is expected within 30 days.
The reporters and their driver were represented in court by three lawyers.
“We are satisfied by the way the hearing was conducted. The court allowed all parties to express themselves and gave us enough time to defend them,” Clement Retirakiza, one of the lawyers, told journalists covering the hearing.
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