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Man given jail term, fine, for assaulting journalist in Sierra Leone

On 12 July 2013, Mohamed Ambrose Koroma, a teacher based in Kenema – a district in the eastern part of Sierra Leone – was sentenced to three months in prison by the Kenema Magistrates' Court for assaulting Paul Lamin, a reporter for the privately-owned Awareness Times newspaper.

Koroma, who has been standing trial since January 2012, was found guilty on two counts of assault and causing injury, and subsequently sentenced to prison or to pay a fine of 200,000 Leones.

According to the MFWA's monitor in the country, the Principal Magistrate, Alhaji Momoh Jah, also ordered Koroma to immediately pay the sum of 2,500 Leones (about US $600) as compensation to the journalist for damages to his recording equipment following the assault.

On November 2, 2012, Koroma accused Paul Lamin, of taking photographs of him when Lamin was covering an election process in Kenema. He pounced on Lamin, beat him up and destroyed his digital camera and voice recorder.

The MFWA welcomes the sanctions pronounced on Koroma by the court and hopes that this will serve as a deterrent to citizens as well as security operatives who are always looking for the slightest opportunity to harass journalists doing their professional work.

In another development, two journalists that have been standing trial on defamation charges since 6 May 2013 have been ordered to pay an amount of 12 million Leones (about US $3,000) by the complainant, Lawyer Adekule King.

Lawyer King is a legal adviser to the National Petroleum Directorate. He brought the suit against the two journalists, and – even though the two have publicly apologized – they must pay the amount as a reimbursement of the legal fees he has accrued before he discontinues the civil case.

The journalists are Kashope Hollande-Cole and Ibrahim Samura – managing editor and editor respectively of Prime Time newspaper. They were arrested on Press Freedom Day (May 3 2013), and detained for 3 days following a complaint by Lawyer King that the two had published pornographic pictures of him with a supposed former girlfriend.

The two have since offered an unqualified apology and retracted the article while the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) led by its President, Kelvin Lewis, is negotiating the amount of the fine with Lawyer King.

The MFWA regrets the conduct of the two journalists and urges all journalists to pay heed to the ethics of the profession.

For more information please contact:
Kwame Karikari (Prof)
Executive Director
MFWA
Accra
Tel: 233-0302-24 24 70
Fax: 233-0302-22 10 84

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