JULY 28, 2005
Posted August 31, 2005

Harry Yansaneh, For Di PeopleKILLED – UNCONFIRMED
An attack on newspaper editor Harry Yansaneh contributed to his death from kidney failure two months later, a judicial inquest found on August 26. A magistrate ordered the arrest of Member of Parliament Fatmata Hassan, three of her children, and two other men for suspected manslaughter after the weeklong inquest.

Yansaneh, acting editor of the daily For Di People, was assaulted on May 10. He died on July 28 of kidney failure, according to an autopsy. Yansaneh alleged that Hassan had ordered the attack, according to local sources and press freedom organizations. She denied this.

Hassan, an MP for the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Olu Campbell, and Reginald Bull were detained on August 26. All three suspects were released on bail on August 30, pending a separate trial. Police said they would seek the extradition of Hassan’s two sons and a daughter from the United Kingdom.

“Though we cannot say that he was killed by the Komehs (Hassan’s children) and Reginald Bull, the death of Harry Yansaneh was involuntary manslaughter,” the inquest ruled. Hassan’s two sons and daughter, and Bull attacked Yansaneh, it said. The extent of his injuries was not clear at the time. He was not hospitalized.

“The death was accelerated by the beating which Yansaneh suffered,” the inquest added.
Before the attack Hassan sought to evict For Di People and five other independent newspapers from the offices they had rented from her late husband for many years. For Di People’s offices were also vandalized.

Local journalists said the attack might have been motivated by the newspaper’s criticism of the SLPP and the government. Yansaneh had taken over as senior editor following the imprisonment of For Di People’s editor and publisher, Paul Kamara, in October 2004. Kamara was convicted of “seditious libel” and sentenced to two years in jail for articles that criticized President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

The government ordered the inquest following strong local and international pressure. The Sierra Leone Journalists Association said it was satisfied with the proceedings and with the outcome.