Four Burundian journalists appeared before a court on Wednesday to appeal a two and a half years sentence handed to them in January.
Térence Mpozenzi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Egide Harerimana and Christine Kamikazi, who worked for the private newspaper Iwacu, were arrested in October 2020 while on their way to cover clashes between Burundian forces and the Red-Tabara rebel group in the northern Bubanza province.
They were sentenced in January for “complicity in undermining the internal security of the state”. The UN Human Rights Council condemned the sentence.
Their lawyer Clément Retirakiza told the BBC that Wednesday’s hearing of the appeal was balanced as they were given equal time like the prosecution.
“We have hope that the Court of Appeal will clean and release them,” Mr Retirakiza said, emphasising that his clients were arrested while legally practising their profession.
Right groups, international journalists unions and the European Union parliamentarians have condemned the arrest and trial of the four journalists.
The appeal will be determined in 30 days the court said.