Burundi appeals court upholds journalists’ prison sentence

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — An appeals court in Burundi on Friday upheld the two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for four journalists convicted on charges of trying to undermine state security.

The journalists are with Iwacu, one of the few remaining private media organizations in the East African nation. “Our four colleagues remain in prison at Bubanza. We will keep claiming justice and take the affair to the Supreme Court. We thank all those who support us,” Iwacu leader Antoine Kaburahe said in a Twitter post.

The four were arrested in October in Musigati district in the western province while covering the aftermath of clashes between the army and a rebel group from South Kivu in neighboring Congo.

President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government cracked down on the media ahead of the May presidential election won by the ruling party candidate. Several local radio stations and media houses closed and many journalists fled the country.

“These (Iwacu) journalists should never have been arrested for doing their work. This case has been nothing but retaliation for journalism,” said Muthoki Mumo, the Committee to Protect Journalists representative in sub-Saharan Africa.

“This case is empty,” added Arnaud Froger, Africa manager for Reporters Without Borders.

Burundi has been plagued by political violence since 2015, when Nkurunziza announced he would seek a disputed third term. He won re-election despite widespread protests, and the United Nations says more than 1,200 people were killed in the ensuing crackdown.

Nkurunziza surprised many by not running again this time, but some in Burundi worry he will assert power behind the scenes as the ruling party’s “Supreme Guide.”

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

More from WTOP

Football news:

Barcelona and PSG want to sign Alaba for free in a year
Lokomotiv – CSKA. Who will win the last top match of the season?
Guardiola on the abolition of the ban are Incredibly happy. All that people were talking about Manchester City, wasn't true
Mourinho on the abolition of the ban city: Shame. I don't know if they're guilty or not. I criticize the decision
Real want to sign Mbappe in 2021. Madrid is confident that he will not extend his contract with PSG
Barcelona offered Coutinho to Arsenal and Newcastle (
Klopp about FFP: Yesterday wasn't a good day. If the richest clubs and countries do what they want, it will complicate the situation