A court in Arbil convicted Adel Hussein, a physician and freelance contributor to the independent weekly Hawlati, of violating “public custom” in connection with an April 2007 article about health issues related to sex, Tariq Fatih, Hawlati’s publisher, told CPJ. The court sentenced Hussein to a six-month jail term and fined him 125,000 dinars (US$106). He was taken to Mahata Prison in Arbil the same day, Fatih said.
The conviction appeared to be in violation of a regional press law that took effect in October 2008, which does not recognize violations of “publish custom” as a criminal offense. The new law also does not provide for prison terms for so-called press offenses.
The sentence was apparently based on a now-outdated penal code provision, said Luqman Malazadah, Hussein’s lawyer. Malazadah told CPJ that he had appealed the conviction.