Jail for Tanzania lawmaker who defamed president
A Tanzanian court on Monday handed five-month jail terms to two regime opponents, including a lawmaker, for defaming President John Magufuli, their defence counsel said.
Joseph Mbilinyi, a lawmaker with main opposition party Chadema in the southern town of Mbeya, was sentenced with party regional secretary Emmanuel Masonga.
They were charged with linking Magufuli in December to the attempted September assassination of senior opposition lawmaker Tundu Lissu and the abduction of other opposition supporters.
Lissu, shot several times at his home, is currently recovering in hospital in Brussels.
"The Myeba court gave the accused five months for insulting president Magufuli. As we speak they are already in jail," defence lawyer Peter Kibatala told AFP by phone.
He added an appeal would be lodged and that he was calling for their release in the meantime.
Mbilinyi says he was not even present when the reputed comments were made linking Magufuli, nicknamed "Tingatinga" (bulldozer in Swahili), with the assassination attempt.
The 58-year-old took office in 2015 as a corruption-fighting "man of the people" but has earned criticism for his authoritarian leadership style with detractors saying he has clamped down on opposition and freedom of expression.