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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

TV network agrees to dropping charges against former executives

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Mahmoud Bouneb.
Mahmoud Bouneb.

 

A local broadcaster has given its consent for withdrawing criminal charges against three former employees of Al Jazeera Children’s Channel (JCC), who have been on trial facing accusations of financial impropriety for two years.

The decision, heard in a Doha court earlier today, follows last month’s abrupt move by a prosecutor to drop charges against the three defendants, pending the approval of Al Jazeera Media Network.

The prominent broadcaster was asked to weigh in even though it was not involved in the initial complaint. JCC was owned by Qatar Foundation when the alleged offenses were said to have taken place. The station came under the control of Al Jazeera Media Network in 2013, after legal proceedings were underway.

Representatives of Al Jazeera said in court that since the money the defendants are accused of mismanaging are technically public funds, the network would leave it up to the prosecutor’s judgement as to whether to continue with the legal proceedings.

With the prosecutor and Al Jazeera agreeing to withdraw the charges, the judge adjourned today’s court session and scheduled a hearing for February 12 to deliver his verdict.

Previous allegations

Today’s hearing came two years to the day after the three defendants – former manager Mahmoud Bouneb, a Tunisian-Canadian, and his Moroccan wife, the station’s former programming director Malika Alouane, as well as Palestinian expat Haitham Qudaih, the ex-cost controller – first appeared in court.

They were fired in September 2011 by JCC along with roughly 30 members of the channel’s senior staff.

While no reason was given at the time for their termination, Bouneb and his co-defendants were subsequently accused of financial impropriety and placed under a travel ban that prevented them from leaving Qatar.

Current criminal court in Doha
Current criminal court in Doha

It took more than a year and a half before charges were read out in court, which Bouneb said accused of mismanaging approximately QR3.1 million (US$851,460) over eight years.

An audit by accounting firm Ernst & Young found instances of “administrative misconduct” by Bouneb, such providing insufficient supporting documentation for travel claims and approving contracts without obtaining the required co-signature of a board member.

But an Ernst & Young representative testified that none of the three on trial committed any form of embezzlement or “harmed intentionally the channel’s funds.”

A verdict was scheduled to be presented in June 2014, but was subsequently delayed after the judge ordered an additional investigation into the programming created at the station under the trio’s watch.

However, Tunisian media reported in November that the country’s foreign minister had negotiated an agreement with Qatari authorities that would lead to the lawsuit against Bouneb being withdrawn.

The three defendants declined to comment to Doha News about today’s court hearing.

Thoughts?

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Desert Witch
Desert Witch
6 years ago

Finally, a result. However these people have lost three years of income and their professional names have been dragged through the mud. For what? A petty gripe? A vengeance trip?
We will never know the full truth.

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  Desert Witch

Atleast this guys had the means or the support to get on during this three years what if the same had to happen to some lesser beings with no one to help or support them.
Yeah and exactly what about all this lost years while they waited for someone to settle their situation and make a decision..

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

he had his pension from Switzerland, but what about the Gaza born one? He was helped by an international association because he could not sustain himself and his family.

This thing was something made up. Somebody had to gain something, and not the 3 people investigated. They lost 3 years of their lives

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Why Tunisian Canadian? If he had emigrated from Ireland to Canada you wouldn’t call him Irish-Canadian.

Remind me of a conversation I had once with a senior guy at my company. “How many Indians do we have in this department?”

2 I replied.

No that can’t be true, what about Narendra.

He’s canadian.

No, put him down as indian.

But he was born in Canada. Can’t even speak Hindi.

No, still indian put him down as indian. What about Ahmed?

He’s candian as well.

No, put him down as Indian.

Not only was he born in Canada so was his parents. What about Colin?

He’s canadian.

Well actually he was born in England, his parents emigrated to Canada when he was 3.

Stop complicating matters. How many Indians do we have?

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Funny isn’t it? By the same twisted logic most Qataris are Saudi.

Luke
Luke
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

It’s not the same logic cause Qataris and Saudis are both Arabs (the ethnicity).
I blame this logic on the irrational racism many Westerners have.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
6 years ago
Reply to  Luke

Hmmm, based on the description I had just assumed that MIMH’s boss was Arab. My experience has been that the “irrational racism” of confusing ethnicity with nationality is less common from countries with a more diverse citizenship. It is certainly a common attitude in Qatar. I have found it to be very common in the Gulf, China and Korea – some of the most racist societies I have dealt with.

Misha
Misha
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

If you are asking about ones nationality you are right and your boss needs to be educated about globalism, especially for work one should go by the passport as it is the legal document.
I don’t see where in the article it says the Irish part but Im guessing Tunisian Canadian further clarifies where his decendants are from. I have found that when it comes to ones identification with their ancestor’s country vs country they have immigrated to it is highly variable. Factors such as how many generations immigrated, reason for immigration, how well they are culturally integrated, how often they visit the ancestor country and also situational environment (sometimes how one identifies themselves depends on the audience and circumstances).
I identify the person as they identify themselves. The world has changed so much you meet people with such varied upbringings and immigrants of all kinds go to the ends of the earth. A lot of people still treat you first by what you look like and then what accent you have regardless of when you family has immigrated to a country.

KK
KK
6 years ago

I do not understand why all these Tunisians, Lebanese, Sudanese, others… are so desperate to obtain a Canadian passport. What is the point at the end of the day?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  KK

Suddenly they think they should get paid a higher salary but are allegic to pay tax in Canada. Until recently when the Canadians got tough the joke was you for your Canadian passport with a happy meal in Dubai McDonalds….

Misha
Misha
6 years ago
Reply to  KK

Really? What exactly do you not understand? Why they would risk leaving their home countries in search for a better income, political stability, a passport that will allow them to travel to most places visa free?

hohum
hohum
6 years ago

What annoys me with the entire system is that at the end of the day, the prosecutor, the government, the accusers can say “oops we couldn’t prove anything” and then walk away from it it at the end of the day.

Meanwhile the accused is expected to do the same with no discourse to compensation. The government then has the power to deport you despite being found innocent, in the hope they have solved the problem from their own side.

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