In Sierra Leone, Two Journalists Detained On Press Freedom Day, Charged With Criminal Defamation

The Freetown Court No.3 on May 6, 2013, charged Kasho Cole and Ibrahim Samura, Managing Editor and editor respectively of privately-owned Prime Newspaper, on eight counts of offences including criminal defamation for allegedly publishing an article about Lawyer Adekule King, an employee of the National Petroleum Directorate.

The Court presided over by Magistrate Bankole Shyllon, however, granted the journalists bail in the sum of Ten Million Leones (about US$2,500) with one surety.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent reported that Cole and Samura were charged after they had spent three days in detention at the Pademba prison in Freetown, the capital, following the Court's refusal to grant them bail on May 3, 2013.

Despite pleas for bail by counsel for the journalists on many grounds including the significance of May 3, World Press Freedom Day, Magistrate Shyllon refused.

According to the correspondent, before refusing them bail, the Magistrate rebuked the media, stating that he has in the past also been a victim of unfavorable media coverage by Paul Kamara, owner of For Di People newspaper and now Sports Minister in President Bai Koroma's administration.

Cole and Samura were arrested and detained on May 3, 2013, following a complaint filed against them by Lawyer Adekule King, a married man, accusing the two journalists of publishing pornographic pictures of him with a supposed girlfriend. The two are to reappear on May 15, 2013.

The MFWA hopes for a fair trial and pleads with Magistrate Shyllon not to let his past experience with the media, however negative, influence his ruling of the case.

Read the original of this report, with tables and illustrations where appropriate.

About Othman Sheriff 347 Articles
Born and raised in Kenema district, eastern Sierra Leone, Othman Sheriff began practicing journalism during his school days as a youthhood hobby. With a bachelor's degree in mass-media and communication, and a Master’s degree in development and peacebuilding, Sheriff is the Editor-in-Chief and CEO of Critique Echo Newspaper. While tirelessly using journalism as a tool to place his country’s socioeconomic and political landscape under a magnifying glass, Sheriff is deeply involved in community development projects. Over the years, Sheriff has formulated and implemented billions of Leones worth of development projects with funds from Europe and USA. He is chiefly focused on community infrastructural development and economic resuscitation projects, fostering interethnic, interreligious and sociocultural cohesion among the young population in Kenema district. Sheriff is a member of many international peacebuilding initiatives including the United Religious Initiative (URI), International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), Intercultural Leaders Network and Youth Solidary Fund program of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC)

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