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Somalia Charges Against Alleged Rape Victim Draw Protest

Somali journalists, in Mogadishu on Jan. 27, 2013, demand the release of Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, who was arrested after reporting on an alleged rape case involving government soldiers.
A court hearing began Saturday in the case of a Somali woman accused of falsely reporting she was raped by government forces. Somalia's attorney general filed charges against the 27-year-old woman who claims she was attacked while living in a displaced person's camp in Mogadishu.

A journalist also stands accused of publishing false reports about the rape. Three others have been charged in connection with the incident, including the victim's husband, who officials say encouraged his wife to make up the story.

The United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) says it has raised concerns about the handling of the pre-trial phase of the case, particularly the prolonged detention of those involved.

Rights groups say the journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur, has been in police custody since his arrest on January 10.

UNPOS says it has received “firm assurances” from the government that the trial will be conducted with “full respect for both national jurisprudence and international human rights law.”

Somali attorney general Abdiqadir Muse insists the defendants will get a fair trial.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also condemned the handling of the case, saying it makes it more difficult for women to report sexual violence. They have also called for the immediate release of the journalist Abdinur.

The National Union of Somali Journalists is supporting the jailed journalist. The group's secretary general, Mohamed Ibrahim, appealed to top government officials to release the journalist as quickly as possible.