Court notice to govt on French journalists' plea -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Court notice to govt on French journalists’ plea

KARACHI:Two French journalists, who were arrested by the FIA for traveling to Balochistan in violation of visa restrictions, moved a bail application through their lawyer Nafees Siddiqui onThursday before the court of additional district and sessions judge Karachi South.

Judge Nuzhat Ara Alvi, after preliminarily hearing, issued notice to the state for Dec 20.Joel Marc Epstein, reporter, and Jean Paul Guilloteau, reporter and photographer of French week­ly L’ Express, were arrested at a local hotel on Dee 16 and booked under sections 13, 14 and 3 (2) (a) (e) of the Foreigners Act for travel­ing to Balochistan in violation of their visa restrictions.

Both the journalists, who had arrived in Pakistan on Dec 7 on one-month visit, had been granted permission to visit Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. However they, according to the case registered against them, travelled to Quetta to interview some people from Afghanistan without having permission to do so. They have been charged with not complying with the conditions as prescribed and specified in their visas for Pakistan.

Their lawyer, however, pleaded in the bail application that the allegations against them , were not of serious nature, as the mere visit of a place not mentioned in their visas specifically was only an irregularity and in the absence to mensrea (ill-intention) was curable by grant of post-facto permission.

Their lawyer prayed to the court to release the journalists on bail pleading that the offence they had been charged with was bailable and did not fall under. the prohibitory clause of section 497 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Source: Dawn
Date:12/19/2003