By Houda Mzioudet.
Tripoli, 23 August 2013:
Ailing Libyan newspaper editor Amara Al-Khatabi is now able to travel for treatment abroad after Judge . . .[restrict]Ali Zway ordered the return of his passport and the lifting of a travel ban against him, according to his lawyer, Ramadan Salem.
Khattabi was arrested and charged with defaming and insulting the judicial system in December after he published in his paper Al Umma the previous month a list that of 87 judges and prosecutors whom he alleged had been involved in corruption and embezzlement. Despite ill health, he was held in prison until April when he was released on bail. However, he was unable to travel abroad for treatment because of the travel ban.
Khattabi had now completed procedures for his passport’s retrieval and a letter had been sent to the Passport Administration to have his name lifted from travel ban restrictions, the lawyer told the newspaper Quryna.
Hanan Salah of Human Rights Watch Libya told the Libya Herald that HRW welcomed the Tripoli court’s decision, but believed that the case should be revoked because of what it called its “draconian nature” and its “violation of human rights”.
However, slander charges have not been dropped, Salah said, explaining that they were based on Article 195 of the Libyan Penal Code which stipulates that slandering or insulting public officials is punishable by a prison term of can up to 15 years in jail.
The next court session is scheduled for 29 September.
“It’s a restriction on freedom of expression. Criminal defamation charges should be dropped against Al Khatabi”, Salah stressed, saying that the case should not have been dealt as a criminal case in court. HRW called on on the Attorney General to drop the case in April.
Reporters Without Borders has also called for the case to be dropped. [/restrict]