Libel case to be heard in the High Criminal Court!

12 Apr, '07

bin Rajab vs Al-Yousif High Criminal Court summons

I received a summons yesterday delivered to my home instructing me to present myself at the High Criminal Court next Tuesday (17 April 2007) charged under both the Penal Code (3/92, 364, 365) and the Press & Publications Law 47/2002 (3/4, 72, 77) in the defamation case brought against me by a sitting minister; H. E. Mansour Hassan bin Rajab, the Minister of Agricultural Affairs and Municipalities relating to my criticism of his public figure and that of his ministry for lackadaisical performance in executing their duties.

I am grateful for the various mediation efforts enacted on my behalf which have gained the Minister’s assurances – twice – that he would drop the case; however, unfortunately this obviously has not happened.

I am very grateful for the tremendous support I have received from Bahraini and international journalists and friends in this regard. They not only promise to be present at the trial in a show of solidarity, but the Bahrain Journalists’ Association specifically have appointed Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj to take up the defence of the case on my behalf.

I have also received and continue to receive the unstinting support from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights as well as the Bahrain Human Rights Society. I truly appreciate their advice and their support.

I am convinced that I did no wrong. I have portrayed my criticism squarely at a public figure and a government organ both of whom I think did not execute their job to the full extent of their capability. This case is nothing more than a scare tactic to silence any form of criticism, especially that of a public official. Why else is a case like this is to be heard at the highest criminal court in the land? Why else is a defamation case looked at in the same court that adjudicates murder and treason cases?

I believe in our constitution, and believe in the human right of free speech and expression. I know that with your support I can go through this.

If you wish, you can show your support by writing about this case and you are more than welcome to be present at the court next Tuesday morning to show your support.

For background information about this case, please use the following link:
http://mahmood.tv/tag/bin-rajab

and full press coverage (so far) at:
http://mahmood.tv/bin-rajab-vs-al-yousif-libel-case/

A higher resolution image of the attached document (for publication) is available at:
http://mahmood.tv/pages/courtcase_binrajab_vs_alyousif_pp.jpg


Penal Code articles 364 and 365:

الفصل الرابع

القذف والسب وإفشاء الأسرار

مادة – 364 –

يعاقب بالحبس مدة لا تزيد على سنتين أو بالغرامة التي لا تجاوز مائتي دينار من أسند إلى غيره بإحدى طرق العلانية واقعة من شأنها أن تجعله محلا للعقاب أو للازدراء .

وتكون العقوبة الحبس والغرامة أو إحدى هاتين العقوبتين إذا وقع القذف في حق موظف عام أثناء أو بسبب أو بمناسبة تأديته وظيفته ، أو كان ماسا بالعرض أو خادشا لسمعة العائلات ، أو كان ملحوظا فيه تحقيق غرض غير مشروع .

وإذا وقع القذف بطريق النشر في إحدى الصحف أو المطبوعات عد ذلك ظرفا مشددا .

مادة – 365 –

يعاقب بالحبس مدة لا تزيد على سنة أو بالغرامة التي لا تجاوز مائة دينار من رمى غيره بإحدى طرق العلانية بما يخدش شرفه أو اعتباره دون أن يتضمن ذلك إسناد واقعة معينة .

وتكون العقوبة الحبس مدة لا تزيد على سنتين والغرامة التي لا تجاوز مائتي دينار أو بإحدى هاتين العقوبتين إذا وقع السب في حق موظف عام أثناء أو بسبب أو بمناسبة تأديته وظيفته ، أو كان ماسا بالعرض أو خادشا لسمعة العائلات أو كان ملحوظا فيه تحقيق غرض غير مشروع .

وإذا وقع السب بطريق النشر في إحدى الصحف أو المطبوعات عد ذلك ظرفا مشددا .

Press & Publications Law 47/200 articles:

مادة (72) :

إذا نشر طعن في أعمال موظف عام أو شخص ذي صفة نيابية عامة ، أو مكلف بخدمة عامة يتضمن قذفا في حقه ، عوقب رئيس التحرير و كاتب المقال بعقوبة القذف المقررة في قانون العقوبات إلا غذا أثبت صحة الوقائع المسندة وكانت هذه الوقائع متصلة بالوظيفة أو الخدمة .

مادة (77) :

تختص المحكمة الكبرى المدنية بنظر الجرائم المشار إليها في المادة السابقة ، وتستأنف أحكامها أمامم محكمة الاستئناف العليا المدنية

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Comments (53)

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  1. Good night and good luck says:

    Will your accuser be there to face you?

  2. Costa-Guy says:

    علمني اشلون اصمم “بلوغ” وبكرة اتشوف 24 قضية ضدي صافة ورا قضيتك

    ملاحظة: من متى وال”بلوغ” يندرج تحت باب الصحافة والنشر والمطبوعات؟

    إذا “البلوغ” غير مدرج في القانون تحت باب الصحافة والنشر والمطبوعات يعني ما تتبع إلى وزارة معينة معناتها القضية فاشوش
    في فاشوش وكلام فاضي وتسقط القضية

    ملاحظة 2: ياما نواب ومسؤولين انقرصوا من محمود على الرغم من قساوة النقد واللي بعض الأحيان يكون خاطئ، شوف رد النواب والمسؤولين وشوف رد الوزير

  3. Will be there to support you Mahmood

  4. Bernie says:

    I wish I could be there Mahmood. I wish you the best with this and my sincere hope that you get to face the silly man down.
    Such spiteful pride should not be in government.

  5. Good night and good luck says:

    Will this be like Nuremburg? Or something from Kafka (The Trial)?

    I can’t wait, Bahrain’s first celebrity show tiral. I hope your lawyer is up to speed on defamation law….

  6. Peter says:

    Sometimes it´s obvious who is the good and who is the bad guy.
    Good luck to you.

  7. Hey man. Our hearts are with you & we’ll do whatever we can to help you in that. At what time is it going to be? I would like to be there.

    Cheers,,, and all the best in your case 😉

    See ya in… 3 hours something :biggrin:

    Ummmm, I’ve never been there in Al Bare7 Cafe before, where is it exactly located?

    Bye! :sideways:

  8. Robert says:

    Wish u good luck!

    Don’t give up!!!

  9. Good Luck Mahmood. The MP and his actions are a joke and a mockery to the position he holds.

  10. Djinny says:

    I’m really looking forward to seeing how this plays out. Best of luck, Mahmood–you’re in the right!

  11. Abu Arron says:

    As someone of few words, this summons is زِفت. Has he no idea that this will make a laughing stock of his delicate pride?!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Best of luck dear Mahmood. But are you sure you’re getting the best defence? Stature of the lawyer is crucial you know.

    Also, would it be legally beneficial to take the “shame them” route? First, you were taking license by CP assurance to write your and people’s mind on all matters. Second, you were writing in a language, in a medium, to an audience that is completely foreign and novel to those who conceived/apply the law in the first place. And that what would be defamation and degrading comment in translated Arabic is a standard fare otherwise.

  13. M says:

    It is unfortunate that the MP in question chose to take this personally rather than understanding that he is a public figure and his performance is subject to scrutiny by those he is duty bound to serve.

    Good luck to you, Mahmood; you will be in our thoughts. You are lucky to have the support of many local friends and acquaintances that will stand by you because they realize the importance of this issue not only to you but themselves and other Bahrainis. It is a good thing that this process has unfolded for all the world to see for now people will know the true heart and soul of Bahrain.

  14. AGA says:

    I will be praying for you, Mahmood, for your family, as well as for Ms. Fatima Al-Hawaj and for those holding the privilege and duty to render judgment in your case. May that judgment uphold your individual personal freedom of speech and expression as well as upholding generally the civil rights of every Bahraini to criticize the performance of their public officials.

  15. Sandrine Phellps says:

    Good luck with the court case!! I hope all this is cleared up immediately and for good! :biggrin:

  16. Good night and good luck says:

    Dear Mahmood, I wish you the best treatment available in the High Criminal Court. But be prepared to lose this one. Don’t be lulled by the legion of friends, well-wishing intermediaries (who did not get the indicated peace treaty for you) and monsoon of online wannabe paralegals who will gush their support for you and your cause and its unchallengeable merits. The High Crinimal Court is not the blogosphere, and in my humble opinion, you are on to a loser here.

    The law of libel (or defamation generally) has not been widely tested here – especially your alleged internet-delivered libel, and that means that wider interpretation based on a body of affrmed case law, that may exonerate you, is unlikely.

    Also do you have full confidence that the lawyer offered up to you has sufficient craft and expertise to handle this specialized case? Even if she has a proven track record of successfully defending against libel charges, does she have the wile and craftiness to defend you against all the forces that will be railed against you?

    Get the best lawyer for your case. Sadly Johnny Cochrane is no longer available.

    Best of luck.

  17. Iris says:

    Dear Mahmood,

    I wish you a pocket full of luck and a very versatile lawer.
    These issues are not easy to deal with, but with a good legal staff you might find a good way out.

    All the best!

  18. Ansgar says:

    What would be the “worst case scenario”?

    Good luck and hold tight!

  19. Iris says:

    :whistle: Sorry for the multiple posting. Apparently my provider is so happy with the fact that its owner has overtaken Warren Buffet on the FORBES list, that it posts 2 for the price of one.

  20. Capt. Arab says:

    للحق دولة وللباطل جولة
    Enshallah God willing you will emerge with truimph

    Our thoughts will be with you.

    Good Luck

  21. Vic Spencer says:

    I wish you the best Mahmood. In quite a few countries including the USA a public figure may be criticised and be called all sorts of names, fairly or unfairly without the right to bring legal action against the offender. Freedom of speech is one thing but public figures in this area, because of their level of influence, do not have rights other than defending themselves with facts IN PUBLIC. They do however deserve respect, that you tend to give only to Bahrain royalty, but not their appointees, or to the MPs who have been voted in by the people. I would change that approach.

    I think you should show them by running for public office yourself, winning and then you can accomplish some great things on behalf of the people. And after you have done it effectively, you could be critical with more credibility.

    Best wishes,

    Vic

  22. @ Peter:

    You hit the point 😀

    I wish you the best, Mahmood. Not just luck – it’s a matter of justice, so you shall get it. Fight back and don’t give up!

  23. Pamela says:

    Mahmood,

    I don’t know how I can help, other than to pray and keep good thoughts for you and your family.

    Good luck you’re one of the brightest lights in this world of darkness.

  24. ASKAD says:

    Good luck Mahmood, go get them. 😉

  25. rayyash says:

    أتمنى من الجميع البدء في العمل على الحملة الوطنية لحماية حرية المدونين

  26. mahmood says:

    Thank you my friend, I really appreciate your effort, and you’re right, we have to think of the larger picture of thinking of ways to protect bloggers in Bahrain.

  27. ananyah says:

    good luck! Hope everything goes your way :biggrin:

  28. Zainab Alkhawaja says:

    Wish I was in Bahrain so I could come to court and show my support.

  29. Ahmed says:

    To show our support for Mahmood and our right – as bloggers and human beings – to express our views free of prosecution, i’ll be attending the first session with my friends. Could you tell us exactly when will the procedings start? should we be there at 8am?

    On another note, the minister has no case against you really and if the trial was fair and square you will win the case. They (you know who) are trying to shut you up. This libal case is a sorry excuse to achieve that. I certainly hope this won’t affect the future of mahmood.tv but let them know that there are hundreds of bloggers in Bahrain who are posting and blogging anonymously. They can’t stop them just as much as China can’t stop their free bloggers from breaking the great firewall of China. The internet is imposible to censor. Bahrainis are no longer uneducated and free of thoughts. We will speak our mind regardless of whether Mr X or Mr Y says we can’t. This is our right and taking that away from us is no different from putting us all in jail for no crime.

  30. sandy says:

    Blogfather!

    Go get him… we are with you… see you outside the court

  31. Ingrid says:

    I have been away online for a while and what news to come back to! You are such a smart and eloquent person, I cannot imagine that anything bad could come out of it other than a public display of sorts on the part of that public official to ‘show you’. And then you can calmly post about garden topics?? Good for you and I will pray for a good outcome of this whole nonsense.
    All the best to you and the family, I’m sure your wife is in knots over this!!
    hugs
    Ingrid

  32. jasra jedi says:

    Keep morale and head high …

  33. Ingrid says:

    Just to make sure more eyes are watching this, I posted on this on my blog.. you’re quite the celebrity!
    Ingrid

  34. Joel Portman says:

    Best of Luck Mahmood – Knock ’em dead!

    Joel

  35. Ibn says:

    Holy sh*t Mahmood ….

    I feel quite guilty just sitting here … I really would have wanted to attend this day in court. I would be the guy sitting way in the back who would conveniently cough every time the prosecutor opened his mouth. As security gets wind of my sinister coughing plan and starts to approach me, I would get up, run towards the prosecutor, and let loose 7 chickens that I managed to diabolically hide under my shirt.

    As my army of ruthless chicken minions begin to bok-bok-bok-bok there way around the court room leaving nothing but utter chaos in their wake, I would quickly change into my disguise consisting of wearing a thobe, but with my underwear on the outside. By this time security is tripping over my faithful chicken subjects, and anyone over the age of 64 has fainted from the sight of my tighty-whities being worn over my thobe. It is at this point that I turn towards the judge raising my hands screaming “Stop!” … “Your honor… My name is Jabbar bin Kilot… and I am from the future!”
    “You see your honor, in the year 2067, MP Mansour Hassan bin Rajab will pass a law on his death-bed … calling for all loyal Bahraini citizens to wear their kilots, over their thobes… and I can see that everyone here is wearing their kilots on the inside! And that is why I am here… to rectify the past! In the name of the all-knowing MP Mansour Hassan bin Rajab! Dare you question him?! Dare you??! ”

    By this time my security has pounced on me, and they are dragging me out kicking and scuffling, while I scream, “Show me your underwear! show me your underwear! It is the law! … your underwear!. ..!”

    🙂

    Forgive me Mahmood, I am slightly blitzed at the moment…. dude, you f’ing rock. Here’s raising my glass to you habibi.

    You are history…in the making…

    Allah ma3ak habibi… Allah ma3ak.

    -Ibn

  36. mahmood says:

    Ibn, that does it, I shall instruct a few faithful souls to do exactly as you suggest and then just sit back and watch the fireworks and laugh! :biggrin:

  37. mahmood says:

    Thanks everyone for your support. I hope that the Bahraini judicial system will show its independence and solidarity with the Constitution of the land, rather than side with overly inflated and hurt egos.

  38. Maverick says:

    M. I am surprised this came to court so soon. Looks like they are in a hurry to prosecute defamation cases faster than criminal cases.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you for your success. At the most they will fine you. But hold your head up high my friend and know that what you did, you did with proper moral convictions and belief in your rights as a citizen to criticize a government official for failing in his duty to his people.

    This is another reason to allow political parties and to allow people to elect officials of their choice who can perform and can he held accountable for non-performance.

    God bless you and your dear family and give you strength and presence of mind when you face the onslaught of the law.

  39. Vic Spencer says:

    Ibn, that was great! Mahmood, I am trying to send some well endowed Hooters’ Girls to your appearance. Every time the accusers speak, they will jump up, shake all around and will sing a little song to the judge – who will have to go on oxygen by the time these cute girls finish. Just imagine this happening mon!!! With Ibn’s idea and this, it could be the best show for everyone. I think the next time they invite you, charge everyone admission.

    Look up some lines from a famous old American comic called George Carlin. Better yet, can you rent his VCR or DVD? He could provide you with some outstanding lines that you could deliver. It will be great for your morale mon just to listen to him before the big event. Another is Luis or Lewis Black. They have some great lines about government that you could serve up. Everyone will be rolling from laughter mon!

    There are some excellent materials in the above that could serve as an example. The time will come, perhaps soon when you will be able to say things like that about public figures. In the mean time, have some great fun!

    Vic

  40. Vic Spencer says:

    Mahmood, when they call your case in court, just play this recording, sing it and dence up there! http://www.folloder.com/sounds/feelgood.wav

    You have to dance just right mon, and you will win!

    Vic

  41. Esra'a says:

    Mahmood, I am with Maskati now for a conference in Morocco and I brought this case up to some influential participants within the region. You definitely have our full support.

    Good luck my friend! If anything happens you know we’ll be here.

  42. can we talk says:

    Mahmood, best of luck, you’ll be alright, i’m sure.

    This is another reason to allow political parties and to allow people to elect officials of their choice who can perform and can he held accountable for non-performance.

    oh yeah, because the political parties are doing a great job… why not give them everything so they can screw up what’s left…. please!!!!!!!

  43. Good night and good luck says:

    “Silence in court!!”

    Ibn… you gonna wash them first before you put them on display? And I don’t mean the chickens……

  44. Ati says:

    Hi, I would say Mabrook, coz the DPP sucked as they framed the case, as usual.

    First off, let’s be dealing with the charges under the Penal Code.

    Actually the “crime” listed as per article 92/3 is no crime, since that article only defines certain acts and how and when they are to be considered as having been committed in public. In other words, that artcile does not, cannot, and cannot be said to, contain a charge against you Mahmood.

    As to the charges as per articles 364 and 365, one needs to see how the DPP stated the acts which you committed are to be said to be violating these two articles of the law. Knowing precisely what you had published, I would dismiss out right – if I were the judge – any charges under these two articles made under the pretence that what you had written is anything akin to the acts proscribed by them. The brunt of evidence is on the DPP, and all you have to do is to plead innocent.

    Now, under the Law of Press and Publication, the “crime” listed as per article 3/4 is really funny, coz the letter of that article is: “Directorate” means the Directorate of Publications and Press at the Ministry of Information”. So what’s the ‘offence’?!

    As to article 73, all it says is that it is not a defence to say that what was published was copied or translated from other publications issuing inside or outside of Bahrain. So that is not a charge needing an answer in your part, but rather a preemption of a possible defence even before it is made, and would it not be made if you decide not admit guilt in the first place.

    And for article 77, the letter of that article reads as follows: “The civil court has jurisdiction to adjudge violation of press laws, and its judgements are to be appealed before the supreme court of appeal (civil), i.e. not the criminal prescription. So, what is the charge here?

    It is thuis clear that, if anything, all the DPP has done, by bringing the Press Law in the picture, is to demonstrate to the court and to the public at large that they are really unsure of the nature, of the offence, if any, for which it is pressing charges against you. If so, how can they convince a court of law to convict?!

    Good Luck Mahmood!

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