MONDAY 10TH MARCH 2014: Journalists Jonathan Leigh and Bai Bai Sesay of the Independent ObserverNewspaper were today cautioned and discharged after pleading guilty to a singlecharge of conspiracy.
Prosecuting Counsel,Ajibola Manley-Spaine, informed the judge that the State had decided to drop 25of the 26 charges of seditious libel, except count one which deals withconspiracy to publish a seditious article against the President of SierraLeone, Ernest Bai Koroma.
Defence Counsel AnsuLansana pleaded on behalf of the journalists, asking the Judge to temperjustice with mercy, since the journalists had apologized and pleaded guilty tothe offence.
Presiding Judge JusticeAbdulai Cham cautioned the journalists to ensure they practice professionallyand not defame people in their publications. He warned them that truth is not adefence in seditious libel, and that they must be able to prove beyondreasonable doubt that the publication in question is in the public interest.
He furtheradmonished the journalists to be careful in their reporting and to demonstrateresponsibility so as not to injure the reputation of people – not necessarilyhigh profiled ones but also ordinary people.
The two journaliststhanked the Judge.
SLAJ PresidentKelvin Lewis welcomed the decision and thanked President Koroma for bringing thematter to closure.
Moses A. Kargbo
National Secretary General
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