Erbil court of the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR has sentenced freelance journalist Sherwan Sherwani to four years in prison on charges of fraud.
Sherwani was charged under two articles of the Iraqi Penal Code in the presence of his lawyers in Erbil on July 20.
Sherwani's lawyers told reporters after the hearing that the court sentenced him to four years in prison under articles 295 and 298 of the Penal Code.
According to one article, he was sentenced to two years and six months in prison and according to the other article, he was sentenced to one year and six months.
According to the volunteer defense team, the court imposed the sentence "under political and personal pressure.”
In front of the Erbil court, some activists and relatives of Sherwani protested against the sentence.
Article 295 of the Iraqi Penal Code deals with forgery of ordinary documents and imposes a penalty of up to seven years in prison.
Sherwani was brought before the Erbil Frist Instance Investigation Court on two charges on April 25, but he denied all charges, according to Bashdar Hassan, a member of the team of lawyers defending Badinan activists.
Kamran Osman, a member of the Community Peace Makers CPT's Iraqi Kurdistan team, who attended the hearing, said on Facebook that Sherwani was accused of forging Zebari's fingerprints.
"Zebari testified before the judge that he and his friends in prison have appointed Sherwan as our proxy to sign and fingerprint anything related to our case," Osman said.
"Sherwani shouted in court I am not broken: It is you who are broken against my energy and will. It is not me who is fraudulent. It is you who are in power with fake elections, money and power," Osman added.
On March 16, 2023, three of the convicts in Badinan were released after completing their sentences and reducing their sentences according to a presidential decree by Iraqi Kurdistan Region president IKRP Nechirvan Barzani, including (Ayaz Karam, Shivan Saeed, and Hariwan Isa). However, Sherwani and Gohdar Mohammed are still in prison and other cases have been opened against them.
Badinan detainees, few of them tried and freed up today, are victims of a wave of arrests carried out by the Kurdish security forces Asayish since June 2020 in response to a series of major protests against delay in salaries of state employees, the KRG handling of the economic crisis resulting from disputes with Baghdad over oil production, export and corruption, and reached its peak under the Covid-19 pandemic.
The freelance reporter Sherwani was arrested in 2020 and convicted guilty of disturbing national security of Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR by Erbil criminal court on February 16, 2021, for six years in prison along with four other freelance reporters and civic activists among over 80 detainees of Badinan (Duhok province).
The president of Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKRP per his power has reduced the conviction sentence for five of Badinan detainees from six years to two years and half, expected to be released last September.
However, the local authorities of the IKR have decided in February 2022 to punish one of Badinan detainees included in a presidential decree for reduction of sentence by 60% by reducing his sentence only 50% following his comments of defiance.