Military court in Puntland sentences journalist to three years
Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) protests against the three years jail sentence handed down to freelance journalist Kilwe Adan Farah today by Puntland’s Supreme Court of Armed Forces during what SJS and its lawyers described as a farcical kangaroo court trial that took place inside the Garowe Central Prison.
Kilwe was removed from his cell in the prison and was taken to a small room where judges announced the verdict where the only other person in attendance was the military prosecutor. Kilwe’s lawyer was not allowed to attend nor was his family.
“It is unfortunate that my client Kilwe is once again a victim of the Puntland State Government. He was illegally detained, held incommunicado and tried at a military court which violates all norms. It is absurd that authorities, who are using military court for their personal gain against Kilwe, disregarded all the required procedures for any court hearing. It is clear that the judge was acting under the orders given to him by top government officials.” Mustafe Mohamed, Kilwes defense lawyer said.
On Saturday 13 March, Kilwe Adan appeared before the military court during a brief hearing in which the persecutor brought forward new charges of “inciting to violence, publication of false news and calling for revolt” and appealed against a three month jail sentence made by the First Instance Court of the Armed Forces on 3 March. Kilwe’s lawyer was present and no evidences were brought by the prosecutor leaving the judge to demand for proof of evidences from the prosecutor who later requested adjournment of the hearing.
SJS condemns the shameful and unfounded charges against our colleague Kilwe through the several sham trials since 3 March.
“What we have seen is not a court process. It’s a kangaroo court and misuse of state power to repress and silence Kilwe and intended to send a chilling message to journalists across Somalia. Puntland authorities should be ashamed of themselves by using a military court to prosecute Kilwe who reported anti-inflation protest in Garowe. We call for Puntland authorities including President Said Deni to free Kilwe and stop harassing journalists.” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin SJS secretary general said.
Kilwe was detained by Puntland’s Intelligence Agency (PISA) in Garowe on 27 December 2020 a day after he reported anti-inflation protest in Garowe which irritated the Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni. He was held incommunicado for 16 days before he appeared before a military court on 11 January 2021 when he was charged with “murder and attempted murder ”. Military prosecutors altered the charges three times since then.
“Kilwe has been disappeared, tortured, and then when he thought he had been sentenced to time served and would be freed to return to his family faced a baseless appeal by the Military Prosecutor that has resulted in a three-year sentence given in a hearing where he was not allowed to make representations. Kilwe has not committed any crime but has merely reported the news in his role as a journalist. He should be released immediately and his ongoing persecution reflects terribly on the Puntland authorities.” International barrister Michael Polak, who is part of the team said.