Tanzania: release of artist imprisoned for burning photo of president

Ouagadougou: A Tanzanian artist has been released after paying a fine for burning a photo of President Samia Suluhu Hassan in a video that went viral on TikTok.

Shadrack Chaula, 24, was convicted last week of spreading offensive information online in the video, in which he is seen burning the photo and uttering words that police say were insulting to the head of state. ‘State.

After receiving a two-year prison sentence last Thursday, the painter was released from prison in the southwestern town of Mbeya on Monday after activists raised funds to pay his five million fine. Tanzanian shillings (around 1,740 euros).

‘Thank you to all my fellow Tanzanians and the lawyers for coming together to defend me,’ Mr. Chaula said in a video after his release.

His lawyer Michael Mwangasa confirmed that the fine was paid, adding that he still plans to appeal the sentence because he believes that procedure was violated during the artist’s trial.

Mbeya region police chief Benjamin Kuzaga said after Mr Chaula’s arrest that
his diatribe against Ms Hassan had been “very virulent” and that burning the photo was a “humiliation”.

Speaking in Swahili in the video, the artist called on the government to “hang her until she dies”, accusing Ms Hassan of having killed her predecessor John Magufuli and of “accepting the homosexuality in Tanzania.

Vice-president under Mr. Magufuli, Ms. Hassan succeeded him upon his death in 2021. Observers expect her to run in the 2025 presidential election.

Since coming to power, the president has moved away from Mr. Magufuli’s authoritarian policies and launched a series of reforms, including easing restrictions on the media and the opposition.

Source: Burkina Information Agency