Omani Blogger Trial – Verdict

23 04 2009

We have a verdict. As expected, no news in the local papers. As expected, the international media knows more than we do. As kinda unexpected, websites are copying the same news article (1) (2) (3) (4)etc.

Anyway, the verdict gave us mixed results. On the two counts that he was indicted on, Ali was found Not Guilty of defamation in the allowing-the-anonymous-post case. It might not be easy peasy, but it is certainly not very impossible to get hold of the anonymous poster who posted that post (eh!). But I don’t think the effort and amount of work justifies the target. He was acquitted, right.

In the 2nd, kinda into the mix mixed case of the leaked Ministers Council memo, Ali was found Guilty, albeit it was Lightly Guilty since he was fined 200 R.O and 11 days in prison. And on top of that he was allowed to walk since he has already been in gaol for 11 days previous following his arrest.

Whilst the defamation case was brought on and tried because it was a legal case filed with the Public Prosecutor’s office, the memo case was not legally filed by anyone. Or maybe it was filed in a high-level phone call. And since the Omantel CEO has left office, maybe the case was allowed to fizzle out. But a statement needs to be made about leaking memos and tryna make things transparent! What were you thinking Ali??! I was of the impression that we competed with SA and Kuwait for media freedom, but after Muscati and a review of the stories their press publishes, I stand corrected. They even can give headlines like “Woman Beheaded for Killing Hubby“.

Not much of a Hubby if you not only kill, but behead him, eh!! *shudder*

Edit: There’s a comment thread going on at Muscati’s blog. My comment has ballooned so I’ll post it fully here.

Suburban says:Words fail to describe how dissapointed I am with the government, and the MOI in particular, with this case. I really thought we were different from Saudi, Egypt and China. I fear this is the thin end of the wedge.

I don’t think so. After all, we ‘are’ talking about Oman here right. Its not as if this was some landmark human rights case where the rights of ‘journalists’ was on the line. It was more of a strict scolding from Big Brother on the little one getting out of line. “Didn’t delete the post? Make that a option next time. Leaked the memo? Bad Boy! 2 spanks on the butt”

While I’m not downplaying the importance all this holds, but you really can’t hinge rights, principles & laws on majorly (kinda) impromptu trials, sporadic trial sessions and vague ambiguous laws that are open to interpretation both ways. Obviously Big Brother is going to get the final say.

Of course, it would have been landmark & groundbreaking if we knew that no matter what Big Brother’s preferences, if the verdict based on facts was pointing against BB, it would be announced and the case decided as such.

Since I can’t go through the al-Shabiba article without crutches, moral support and a bottle of Tylenol, so I’ll just use Google Translated version here.

Before sentencing the judge said in a speech addressed to the presence of most of the writers and literary freedom of expression in the country, stressing that the laws that have been developed not to stifle freedom of expression, but to regulate [it].

Now, can someone tell me what regulation does to freely expressed speech? Stifles it? “Corrects it to be socially and morally acceptable”?

Alkiomip smile and have a lawyer at the Zweidi satisfaction of government as a victory for freedom of expression and said that this demonstrates the impartiality of the judiciary Oman.

The lawyer smiles Alkiomi that it expected the patent to the first charge and the second was expected with a conviction, noting that the judge did not disappoint them to defend it

The General of the Omani writers and literary in a statement issued yesterday that the rule of Oman through the elimination, and with full transparency, the high awareness on the Elimination of Oman and is based on the deepest understanding of the spirit of the law, and a genuine vision of the breadth of many of the texts.

Of course! Why not! Obviously!

-TFK

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