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Journalist given three-month jail sentence for libelling local official

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has condemned the confirmation of a three-month prison sentence imposed on provincial journalist Andrzej Marek for libelling a local official. The organisation called on the Polish Parliament to amend the country's defamation laws and asked that Marek's sentence be dropped.

Marek, editor-in-chief of the weekly "Wiesci Polickie", in the western town of Police, was given a three-month suspended sentence in November 2003 for libelling Piotr Misilo, a local official whom he had accused of misusing public property. As part of the verdict, he was ordered to apologise to Misilo. Marek refused to withdraw his accusations, and on 6 February 2004 a court ordered him to serve a three-month sentence. He has seven days to appeal the ruling.

RSF notes that, with the imposition of the sentence, Poland is violating European press freedom standards, according to which journalists must not be jailed for actions that are part of their job. Poland is set to join the European Union in May.

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