BUJUMBURA, May 16 – A Burundi court sentenced a journalist Monday to eight months in prison for violating media laws over comments that the country\’s security forces could not deter an attack by Somali rebels.
The court however quashed treason and other serious charges against Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, who was expected to freed after already being in detention since his July 2010 arrest, his lawyer said.
"Mr Kavumbagu has been acquitted of the grave charges of treason, injurious remarks and defamation and sentenced to eight months in prison and fined 100,000 Burundian francs ($80) for breaking media laws," Gabriel Sinarinzi told reporters.
"The formalities to release Jean-Clause Kavumbagu are under way. We have already paid the 10,000 francs and we hope that he will walk out at any moment," he added.
Prosecutors last month sought a life sentence for the journalist.
In an article by his online Netpress publication last year, Kavumbagu said Somalia\’s Shebab rebels could attack Burundi with "disconcerting ease" as its security forces were better at looting and killing people rather than defending the country.
He made the comments after Somalia\’s Shebab rebels claimed responsibility for the July 11, 2010 bombing of Kampala bars that killed 76 people.
Uganda and Burundi are the only countries to have deployed troops for the African Union force protecting the Somali government that the Shebab are fighting to overthrow.