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Journalist faces three years in prison for reporting on Puntland protest

MOGADISHU (SD) – Somali Journalist in Puntland state was sentenced to three years in jail by Puntland’s Supreme Court of Armed Forces barely two weeks after a lower military court slapped him with three months of imprisonment.

Kilwe Adan Farah was detained by Puntland’s Intelligence Agency (PISA) in Garowe on 27 December 2020 a day after he reported anti-inflation protest in Garowe which irritated the Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni.

He was held incommunicado for 16 days before he appeared before a military court on 11 January 2021 when he was charged with “murder and attempted murder”.

According to his lawyer, a lower military court had sentenced the journalist to three months in jail early this month, the jail term would have started from the date of his arrest but the prosecutors appealed against the ruling.

On Wednesday, Kilwe was removed from his cell in the prison and was taken to a small room where judges announced the verdict where the only other person in attendance was the military prosecutor. Kilwe’s lawyer was not allowed to attend nor was his family.

Mustafe Mohamed Jama, Kilwe’s defense lawyer termed the ruling unfortunate saying Kilwe became once again a victim of the Puntland State Government.

“He was illegally detained, held incommunicado and tried at a military court which violates all norms. It is absurd that authorities, who are using military court for their personal gain against Kilwe, disregarded all the required procedures for any court hearing. It is clear that the judge was acting under the orders given to him by top government officials,” the lawyer said.

The ruling was also condemned by Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), a local media watchdog based in Mogadishu.

SJS condemns the shameful and unfounded charges against our colleague Kilwe through the several sham trials since 3 March. Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, SJS called on Puntland authorities to free Kilwe and stop harassing journalists.

“What we have seen is not a court process. It’s a kangaroo court and misuse of state power to repress and silence Kilwe and intended to send a chilling message to journalists across Somalia. Puntland authorities should be ashamed of themselves by using a military court to prosecute Kilwe who reported anti-inflation protest in Garowe,” Mumin said.

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