It remains unclear whether the new prison sentence for Ahmed Abba, who stood accused of terror-related charges for his Cameroon coverage, would take into consideration the 29 months he has already served behind bars.
The Yaoundé appeals court on Thursday acquitted Abba – a reporter for the Hausa-language service at RFI, FRANCE 24’s sister radio station – of “laundering terrorism products” (blanchiment de produits du terrorisme).
However, judges upheld the lower court’s ruling for his failure to “denounce” terrorism in connection with his coverage of attacks launched by Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram. Abba was sentenced in April to 10 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay 55.7 million Central African francs (almost €85,000).
Abba has been held in detention since his arrest in July 2015 in Maroua, in Cameroon’s Far North region, where Boko Haram militants have carried out murderous raids. He has strenuously denied the allegations and said he was tortured by Cameroonian intelligence services for three months before he was transferred to the prison in the capital Yaoundé.
Following the initial ruling in April, RFI released a statement expressing its dismay. “Given that no evidence has been provided in the case, this conviction is just about a journalist having exercised his profession,” it said. “Beyond Ahmed Abba’s conviction, it is the freedom to inform and to be informed that has been called into question here. RFI calls for those who are fighting to defend this fundamental right around the world to take action.”
Source: France 24