Freelance journalist in jail for ‘defaming’ Appeals Court judge

September 24, 2019

By Regina Pratt


Mahamoud Tim Kargbo’s freedom will be vital to  upholding democratic tenets

Mahmoud Tim Kargbo, a freelance journalist, yesterday appeared before Magistrate Hannah Bonnie presiding at Court No.1 after he was charged for allegedly publishing a defamatory libel article against an Appeals Court Judge, Justice Miatta Maria Samba.

He is currently being remanded at the Male Correctional Centre on Pademba Road in Freetown

Kargbo was charged with 44 counts of publishing a false defamatory libel, scandalising the court, prejudicing the fair trial of cases pending, maliciously publishing a defamatory libel, insulting conduct and publication of false news in an article captioned “Justice redefined by Miatta Samba” published on Monday September 9, 2019 on his facebook page and WhatsApp.

Led in evidence by State Counsel, Lawyer Adrian Fisher on Monday September 23, 2019, the complainant, Honourable Justice Samba, explained that she felt defamed by an article written by the accused person.

“I felt defamed! All that he wrote against me were lies. The article is still on his Facebook page and that shows no remorse,” she testified.

She testified that the accused went to her chamber at the Law Court building with the Public Relations Officer of the Judiciary and a journalist to apologise for the said article.

“I told him he should not apologise because he should believe in what he had written on the social media.”

She told the court that she usually presides over Anti-Corruption and other matters at the High Court and also at the Court of Appeal, including the matter between the State vs. Edward King and Soriba Kamara, a matter that was pending.

The judge said the Appeal Court has three judges to preside over a particular case, but that in the case of the State vs Edward King and Soriba Kamara, the file was assigned to her as a single judge for bail for which she used the law to grant bail to the accused person on the 28th June, 2019.

The Judge continued in her testimony that late in the evening of Monday 9th September, she received a telephone phone call from one of her colleagues asking her to check her WhatsApp where she saw an article with her name written on it.

“I called my husband and explained to him and told me he too was greatly disturbed. I made a report to the CID on the following day. I felt bad because what he said in that article did not reflect my personality,” she said,

She added that she knew she was not a corrupt official and that she is dealing with corruption offences.

“I felt that the said article interfered with my work in the dispensation of justice,” she said.

She said on 18th September, 2019, she Googled her name and that there was another article  posted about her on the internet, in which  the accused person had stated that he was forced to apologise for writing something critical about her.

“Last week, I sent a message to the Judiciary PRO about the said article on the internet, telling him that the accused had continued his conduct,” she said.

She stated that she received an email supposedly from a certain lady in Nigeria, who described herself as a consultant that projects journalists’ issues.

She said the lady in question had wanted to know more about the article on her personality and to know her telephone number too.

“I felt intimidated nationally and internationally with my name on the internet after I worked hard to maintain my integrity. The accused has damaged my personality,” she stressed.

Ibrahim Kallon, a paralegal government employee, who is also a prosecution witness No.2, recalled on the 9th September, 2019, when the accused posted an article around 16.2300 hours on the Calabash Newspaper WhatsApp group.

“As a member of the group, I thought the article posted by the accused defamed the character of the complainant and I felt very bad considering the respect I have for the judge,” he said.

Another witness, Mohamed Sesay, a detective police constable attached to the Criminal Investigations Department headquarters said he was on duty on Tuesday 10th September, 2019 when the complainant reported the matter against the accused person.

“Statement was obtained from the accused person and was charged on Friday September 20, 2019.He made his first appearance on Monday September 23, 2019.”

Meanwhile, the accused person was not allowed to take a plea and the case was adjourned to Tuesday September 24, 2019.