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Mali Court Convicts 6 for Insulting President

A court in Mali has convicted five journalists and a teacher for insulting President Amadou Toumani Toure.

The case stems from an essay that high school teacher Bassirou Kassim Minta assigned his students. Minta told students to write a humorous essay about an imaginary presidential sex scandal.

A journalist, Seydina Oumar Diarra, wrote an article about the assignment. Both men were soon arrested, along with Diarra's editor, and three other editors who reprinted Diarra's article as a show of solidarity.

Tuesday, a court sentenced the teacher, Minta, to two months in prison. He also was banned from ever teaching in Mali again.

Diarra was given 13 days in prison, while his editor was given an eight-month suspended sentence. The editors who reprinted Diarra's article recieved suspended sentences of four months each.

Media advocacy groups have criticized Mali's government for violating press freedom standards.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.