Ex-official sentenced for 'insulting' Yayi
24 January 2013, 11:01
Cotonou - A former spokesperson for Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi was sentenced to six months in prison on Wednesday on a charge of insulting the head of state by suggesting his entourage was corrupt.
Lionel Agbo, Yayi's spokesperson until March 2011, suggested in September that the president intended to remain in office beyond his legally mandated two terms and that members of his entourage were corrupt.
Judge Ulrich Gilbert Togbonon declared Agbo "guilty of complicity of the crime of insulting the head of state" while sentencing him to six months in prison and a fine of 500 000 CFA ($1 015).
Last week in the West African nation, the head of private television channel Canal 3 was sentenced to three months in prison since her station aired the press conference.
The International Federation of Journalists harshly criticised the television director's sentence, calling it disproportionate and saying it risked forcing the news media into self-censorship.
The case is among several in Benin that have targeted high-profile figures, including one involving an alleged plot to poison Yayi that resulted in arrests in October.
Some have accused the presidency of targeting its enemies, but Yayi, whose term as African Union chairperson is set to end this month, has claimed to be working to curb corruption and government officials have strongly defended the probe into the alleged poison attempt.