Last updated: 1 January, 2012

Oman newspaper to appeal journalists’ jail sentence

Omani newspaper Azzaman said on Sunday it would appeal in the high court the five-month jail sentences handed to two of its staff for insulting the justice minister.

On Saturday, the court of appeal confirmed the sentencing of journalist Yusef al-Haj and the daily’s director and editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Maamaria, and an order to suspend the paper for a month, but decided not to enforce the ruling.

Azzaman’s board of directors complained in a statement against the court’s failure to respect an agreement on their acquittal in exchange for apologies to the minister, which the newspaper published.

The two men were originally charged with insulting the minister, Mohammed al-Hanai, and his under secretary of state, by accusing them of “fraud, deception and prevarications” in an article published in May.

The normally peaceful sultanate was briefly caught up in protests that swept the Arab world last year, with demonstrators taking to the streets in late February to demand improved living conditions.

Demonstrators insisted their protests were aimed at “corrupt” officials and not at Sultan Qaboos, who has ruled for 40 years.