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Burundi girls hero for defacing president's photo Friday



 President Pierre Nkurunziza Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

President Pierre Nkurunziza has been in power since 2005
                

Three Burundi schoolgirls arrested for allegedly scribbling on President Pierre Nkurunziza's photo have been released.

The girls were charged with "insulting the head of state" last Monday and could face up to five years in prison.

Their lawyer Nyanzira Prosper told the BBC the girls have been on bail until they appear in court.

Mr. Prosper said their charges still stand and prosecutors will continue to investigate them.

"We appreciate the work of the court which looks to have acted with independence," he said of their release on Wednesday.

Addressing the allegations against them, Mr. Prosper said there is no evidence of guilt apart from the books being under their names.

He said he expects the girls, aged 1

5, 16 and 17, to go back to school in order to sit upcoming exams

Image copyright
Twitter / Various

users have been altering the president's image
                

Their detention has provoked international condemnation of the Burundian government, whose track record for human rights has come under scrutiny. Four other students, arrested with them in Burundi's northeast of Kirundo province, were later released. [19] 19659020] The father of one of the detained girls customs campaign group Human Rights Watch that they were too scared to eat

HRW has urged the government to release the schoolgirls and concentrate on curbing abuses by the security forces. Authorities should focus on holding perpetrators of serious rights violations to account instead of jailing schoolchildren for doodles, "the group's Central Africa director, Lewis Mudge, said.

A similar case in 2016, several schoolchildren were imprisoned and hundreds expelled for scribbling Burundi's ruling party has repeatedly denied allegations of human rights abuses.


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