Hargeysa, Somaliland, June 21, 2014 (SL Times) – The trial of the two Haatuf journalists Yusuf Abdi Gabobe and Ahmed Ali Ige was resumed under very tight security this week. The two journalists and their lawyers had asked that the trial be presided over by a different judge since the current judge had already said he himself has a personal case against the defendants, but their requests were ignored by the court. Because of these and other violations of the rights of the two journalists, a wide segment of Somaliland’s society including civil society, journalists’ associations, and political opposition parties have condemned this trial as illegal and unfair.
Some of those people who are opposed to the unfair and illegal trial protested outside the court among them the leaders of the opposition party UCID including its presidential candidate Jamal Ali Hussein and the Somaliland Journalist Association (SOLJA).
The secretary General of SOLJA, Mohamed Rashid Muhumed Farah revealed to the media outside the court that the judges and prosecutors were only going through the motions and pretending that it was a real trial when the sentence was already reached before the trial was concluded. The sentence, according to Mohamed Rashid Muhumed Farah consists of three parts: a 6 million shillings fine as compensation for the president’s wife and his son-in-law, 2 years in jail, and six months of suspension for Haatuf and the Somaliland Times.
Riot police attacked the peaceful demonstrators who held placards that read Free Haatuf and Hubaal, freedom of expression, etc. Police physically assaulted the demonstrators and destroyed the signs.
The lawyers for the two Haatuf journalists discontinued their participation and left the courtroom due to the numerous judicial violations by the judge and the prosecutors.
This was the third hearing of the case.