Kamara, editor of the popular daily For Di People, was sentenced to two years in prison in connection with October 2003 articles that criticized President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. The court convicted Kamara of two counts of “seditious libel” under the 1965 Public Order Act. The journalist was taken into custody and transferred to the Pademba Road Prison in the capital, Freetown. Kamara’s lawyer, J.O.D. Cole, has appealed the verdict.
The case stemmed from articles that detailed a 1967 Commission of Inquiry into fraud allegations at the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board at a time when Kabbah helped oversee the board. For Di People also reprinted the commission’s report in installments. For Di People stopped publishing for several weeks after the verdict.
Kamara has been targeted with criminal libel in the past. He served four months of a six-month prison sentence after being convicted of criminal libel in November 2002 for defaming a local judge. On October 9, 2003, a court ordered him to pay 61 million leones (US$24,900) in damages and costs following a civil suit in the same case. When he failed to pay, police seized newspaper equipment and some of Kamara’s personal assets.