Independent Observer journalists cautioned and discharged
MONDAY 10TH MARCH 2014: Journalists Jonathan Leigh and Bai Bai Sesay of the Independent Observer Newspaper were today cautioned and discharged after pleading guilty to a single charge of conspiracy.
Prosecuting Counsel, Ajibola Manley-Spaine, informed the judge that the State had decided to drop 25 of the 26 charges of seditious libel, except count one which deals with conspiracy to publish a seditious article against the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma.
Defence Counsel Ansu Lansana pleaded on behalf of the journalists, asking the Judge to temper justice with mercy, since the journalists had apologized and pleaded guilty to the offence.
Presiding Judge Justice Abdulai Cham cautioned the journalists to ensure they practice professionally and not defame people in their publications. He warned them that truth is not a defence in seditious libel, and that they must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the publication in question is in the public interest.
He further admonished the journalists to be careful in their reporting and to demonstrate responsibility so as not to injure the reputation of people – not necessarily high profiled ones but also ordinary people.
The two journalists thanked the Judge.
SLAJ President Kelvin Lewis welcomed the decision and thanked President Koroma for bringing the matter to closure.
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