Landmark for press freedom
Manama, June 11, 2008
A landmark court case could determine the legal rights of editors-in-chief of local newspapers. It could pave the way for a breakthrough in Press freedoms.
The High Criminal Court suspended a defamation case against Akhbar Al Khaleej editor-in-chief Anwar Abdulrahman and former sports editor Faisal Hayat.
The case, filed by a football referee, was suspended pending a case in the Constitutional Court over the legal responsibility of editors-in-chief, in cases filed against journalists or columnists.
Abdulrahman attended the court hearing accompanied by lawyer Sami Siyadi and on behalf of Mr Hayat was lawyer Hafidh Ali Hafidh.
Present at the hearing, which only took several minutes, was Public Prosecutor Hussain Bu Ali, who asked for the case to be suspended until the Constitutional Court rules on a case filed by Al Watan newspaper editor-in-chief Mohammed Al Banki.
Bu Ali said the verdict in that case would determine the legal rights of editors-in-chief.
The court agreed to the request and issued the decision to suspend the case.
Abdulrahman said that he was keen to be present in court, even though he was told that he could have a lawyer attending on his behalf, out of respect to the law and judges.
"I believe that our judiciary is just and fair, which is always in support of personal freedoms and freedom of expression - the foundations of Bahrain's constitution," he said.
Abdulrahman said that he had a record number of cases filed against him, all of which were because of articles or columns written by the newspaper's journalists.
Siyadi said that article involved in the defamation case was in the public interest, which had always been the goal of Akhbar Al Khaleej as one of the country's major publications in promoting freedom of expression.-TradeArabia News Service