Yemeni daily convicted, acquitted of defamation in two cases

In two separate sessions on June 6, 2013, the Specialized Press and Publications Court found a Yemeni daily guilty of defamation charges in one case and innocent in another, according to news reports.

The court convicted Al-Oula of defamation in connection with an article that it said had defamed Judge Mohamed al-Hakimi, president of the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum. The court ordered the paper to pay a fine of 10,000 rials (US$50), as well as 100,000 rials (US$500) in compensation to Judge al-Hakimi, news reports said.

Al-Oula had covered the commission in recent months and in October 2012 had published an article called “My Journey in the Corridors of the Supreme Commission for Elections,” that accused the commission’s employees of incompetence, nepotism, and corruption. It is not clear if this specific article was the cause of the complaint.

The paper’s lawyer, Dr. Hassan Majali, has filed an appeal to the decision, according to news reports.

The same court also acquitted Al-Oula of defamation in connection with a November 2012 article that accused the local humanitarian group Charitable Society for Social Welfare of mismanagement. The society, whose president is the current minister of justice, said its reputation was damaged by the article and had asked for compensation of 100 million rials (about US$500,000), as well as an apology from the reporter Mohammed al-Absi and editor-in-chief Mohammed Ayesh, Al-Oula said.

Al-Absi told CPJ that the society would seek to appeal the case, but a court date had not been set.