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Writer gets jail for defaming Kurd leader in Iraq

Written by: Staff
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ARBIL, Iraq, Mar 26 (Reuters) A Kurdish writer was sentenced to one year and a half in prison today for accusing Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani of abuse of power, witnesses said.

Kamal Karim, who also has Austrian citizenship, had originally been sentenced to 30 years in prison for defaming Barzani but was released and retried.

The case has raised questions about freedom of the press and democracy in the Kurdish north, which prides itself on having a better human rights record than public bodies elsewhere in Iraq.

Karim was originally found guilty in December under a law passed by the Kurdish regional parliament in 2003. The region has a high degree of autonomy, including the power to enact legislation.

Kurdish leaders promised to help deliver democracy and freedom of the press in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, who oppressed the Kurds for decades.

REUTERS DKS RN1511

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