Sudan President Omer Al Bashir.

The editor-in-chief of Sudan’s Al Tayyar newspaper has been sentenced to six months in prison for refusing to pay a fine of $475 for allegedly violating the country’s journalism ethics.

Osman Merghani was expected to be transferred to Al Huda prison in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, the Sudan Tribune reports.

Merghani was convicted of the charges on Monday by a press court based on defamation charges filed in 2012 by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).

The NISS defamation case followed an opinion piece published in Al Tayyar by university professor, Mohamed Zain Al Abdin, which criticised members of President Omer Al Bashir’s family for misuse of power.

At the time, the NISS suspended Al Tayyar indefinitely and allowed it to reopen in March 2014 upon a ruling of the Constitutional Court.

Once again in May 2016 the Constitutional Court ordered Al Tayyar to resume publishing following another suspension by the NISS, which lasted more than four months.

However, defence lawyer, Abbas Ibrahim Ahmed, said the court had convicted Merghani and Al Abdin of criminal conspiracy, inciting unrest, disturbing public order and provoking hatred against or among sects.

Ahmed said Merghani was also convicted of violating the ethics of the profession and the responsibilities of the editor-in-chief under the press law.

Al Abdin received a three-year suspended sentence and was placed on five-years’ good probation.

- African News Agency (ANA)