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Omani writer sentenced to two months in prison

Mussalam Bin Masoud Al Mashani charged for distributing his book on 2011 protests in Dhofar

Muscat: A court in Salalah found an Omani writer guilty of spreading hatred and sentenced him to two months in prison on Wednesday.

The Salalah Court of First Instance found Mussalam Bin Masoud Al Mashani guilty of distributing his book - Dhofar Diary February 25 – without permission from the competent authorities. The court also found him guilty of spreading hatred and causing discord in the society.

“The court gave me  five months prison term for distributing the book without permission and six months for the second charge and 500 riyals fine for each offence,” Al Mashani told Gulf News through an email from Salalah, about 100-km south of Muscat.

He further said that under the Omani Law he had to serve both the prison terms simultaneously so he had to spend only six months in prison. However, he added, “the court commuted my prison term to only two months.” He was also fined 500 Omani riyals.

“I got the book printed in Yemen and on March 31, 2012, I submitted a copy with the Information Ministry’s Press and Publications Department for a clearance to distribute it in Oman,” Al Mashani said.

To his surprise, he pointed out, the department concerned handed the book to Public Prosecution, who summoned me for interrogation.

Al Mashani said the book, divided into three sections, deals with the 77-day protests in Salalah in that ended with a security crackdown and arrests of activists in 2011. “A complete chronological order of the protests, with pictures, is narrated in my book,” he said.

The Omani writer has time to challenge the lower court verdict in the Appeal Court. According to the Salalah Court of First Instance’s order Al Mashani will have to pay the 500 riyals to file an appeal, pending which he is free on bail.