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Oman appeals court overturns newspaper ban, cuts prison terms

by Reuters
Monday, 26 December 2016 11:53 GMT

MUSCAT, Dec 26 (Reuters) - An Omani appeals court on Monday cancelled an order to close down a newspaper that had reported on alleged corruption within the judiciary.

The privately-owned Azamn newspaper covered a series of corruption cases in 2014 in which several company executives were convicted.

The Court of First Instance said in September the paper had undermined the prestige of the state and disturbed public order, ordering it be closed indefinitely and jailing three of its journalists, following a series of reports in 2016 over alleged cases of corruption within the judiciary.

Amnesty International said at the time it appeared the paper was being punished for "legitimate journalistic work".

The newspaper was first closed by an administrative order from the information ministry issued in August

On Monday, the Muscat appeals court overturned the conviction of one reporter who was sentenced in September to a year in jail and cut prison terms imposed on Azamn founder and editor Ibrahim al-Mamari and his deputy and managing editor, Youssef al-Balushi, to, respectively, six months and one year, down from three.

Fines imposed on the two were also reduced to 1,000 rials ($2,598) each, down from 3,000 rials.

Five years ago, a court closed the newspaper for one month and gave Mamari and a reporter five-month suspended jail sentences for insulting the justice minister and other officials. ($1 = 0.3845 Omani rials) (Reporting by Fatma Al Arimi; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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