Indian sentenced to two-month jail in libel case

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Dubai, Sep 24 (UNI) Two senior journalists, including a former Indian editor of the Khaleej Times, have been sentenced to two months in prison after they were found guilty in a libel case marking what the judicial officials described as ''an unusual verdict''.

The Duai Court of Misdemeanour found the senior Egyptian journalist and senior Indian editor guilty of libelling an Iranian woman.

The daily is planning to file an appeal tomorrow against the initial verdict as the rulings can be challenged in higher courts and only a ruling then would decide if the journalists would be jailed or let off on bail.

The Public Prosecution charged the two defendants with publishing a defamatory article in the English newspaper they work with. In her complaint, the woman accused the defendants of defaming her by publishing an article.

The article published last year said the woman collected a dowry cheque for Dh83,000 which was dishonoured when she went to cash it.

Thereafter, she filed a police complaint against her divorcee.

The court found the defendants guilty though they pleaded innocent, the Gulf News said.

A former judge who requested anonymity described the ruling as ''uncommon and unusual especially in the UAE'', the Gulf News added.

''I have heard of journalists getting fined but not jailed.

This is very unusual here in the UAE and especially in Dubai,'' said the former judge.

In 2004, the Dubai Court of First Instance sentenced Kuwaiti national -- Ahmad Jarallah, Editor-in-Chief of Al Seyassah, Kuwaiti newspaper, to six months in jail and a Saudi national, Othman Al Umair, former editor-in-chief of e-newspaper

The duo were convicted of running defamatory news against a former Miss Lebanon accusing her of having sex with a UAE businessman for thousands of dollars.

Mohammad Yousuf, Chairman of UAE Journalists Association, told the Gulf News that this ruling is the first of its kind against journalists working in local media.

''We do not want to comment on the ruling which we respect.

However, we would like to say, this proves our repeated calls for cancelling imprisonment verdicts against journalists in libel cases as it terrorises them from doing their jobs,''he added.


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