Suspects on trial for plotting to kill editor in Iraq

New York, April 27, 2009–The Committee to Protect Journalists is closely following the imminent trial of two suspects who have been charged with plotting to murder Ahmed Mira, editor-in-chief of the Sulaymaniyah, Iraq-based magazine Livin.

Mira and his lawyer, Othman Sidiq, told CPJ that investigations have been completed and that two suspects have been formally charged with planning to murder Mira. The first session of the trial is due to start on April 29, according to local news reports.

The identities of the suspects have not been made public, Mira told CPJ. He said that a third suspect is still under investigation.  

“We call on the authorities to ensure that this trial is fair and public,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “It is vital that the trial is conducted properly and transparently so that it can set a precedent for future legal proceedings against others who have murdered journalists in Iraq.”

In October 2008, local media reported on the arrest of at least two individuals for allegedly plotting to kill Mira. The editor-in-chief told CPJ that security forces, known as Asaish, informed him of the plot on September 16.

On July 21, Livin reporter Soran Mama Hama, 23, was shot by unidentified gunmen in front of his house in Kirkuk, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. Mama Hama had received threatening messages before the slaying, local journalists told CPJ. He had written articles critical of local authorities, they said. Although the Kirkuk police launched an investigation after his murder, nobody has been charged with the killing.

According to CPJ research, the arrest of the two accused plotters in the Mira case marks the first instance of suspects being charged with plotting to kill a journalist in Iraq. Since the 2003 invasion of the country, CPJ has recorded 138 killed journalists throughout Iraq, of whom 88 were murdered.