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Sierra Leone17 November 2003

Legal campaign against editor of For Di People

Paul Kamara, managing editor of the daily paper For Di People, and three of the paper’s printers were acquitted on 3 November of libelling President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah but a few hours later were charged by the High Court on a new count of libelling him. The four men had been freed on 23 October when a judge agreed to reduce their bail to an amount they were able to pay. The date of their trial before Judge Naomi Tunis was not announced.


Newspaper editor and printers jailed

Reporters Without Borders protested today against the imprisonment of Paul Kamara, editor and owner of the Sierra Leone daily paper For Di People, accused of libelling President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.

Kamara and three of the paper’s printers, Lovetta Charles, Brima Sesay and Joseph Charles have been detained since October 9 when they were charged and granted bail of 50 million leones each (60,000 euros), which they could not pay.

The press freedom organisation called on the authorities to either free the four immediately or reduce the amount of bail so they could pay it and resume their work while awaiting trial. The next hearing in the case will be on 16 October.

Kamara was interrogated by police detectives for six hours on 3 October about an article in the paper headed "Kabbah is a true convict!" recalling that the president, when he was permanent secretary at the ministry of trade in 1968, had been found guilty of fraud by a commission of enquiry. For Di People subsequently criticised the speaker of parliament for saying that Kabbah could not be termed a "convict" because the commission did not have the powers of a high court.

Police questioned Kamara about the article on two further occasions before arresting him and jailing him at Pademba Road prison in Freetown. Kamara was freed from jail last March after serving a six-month sentence for libelling Judge Tolla Thompson, who the paper had accused of embezzlement.

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