Magistrate Dr. Abubakarr Binneh-Kamara yesterday vowed to discharge Mr. Jonathan Leigh if the prosecution again fails to produce witnesses during the next adjourned date on 8 March, 2016.
Magistrate Dr. Binneh-Kamara said at the Freetown Magistrates’ No.1 that the matter involving the editor has been before the court since last year and that the accused liberty was at stake.
“I will discharge the accused person if the prosecution fails to produce a witness at the next adjourned date,” vowed the magistrate.
In his reply, Police Prosecutor Sergeant 922 John Dumbuya said the prosecution had made efforts to reach out to witnesses but to no avail.
Sergeant Dumbuya said he had phoned the officer who investigated the matter, but he had refused to show up in court to testify.
Mr. Leigh was arrested and detained at the Criminal Investigation Department headquarters on 17 December, 2015 for allegedly publishing false news in his newspaper on the same date.
The police refused to grant him bail until he was arraigned before then Magistrate Komba Kamanda at the Freetown Magistrates’ Court No.1 on 21December, 2015 on one count of false publication, contrary to section 32(1) of the Public Order Act No.46 of 1965.
The prosecution holds that the accused published in the 17 December edition of Independent Observer newspaper false statement with the likelihood to cause fear or alarm to the public or disturb the peace of the public.
But the matter has stalled since the editor was granted bail, largely due to the prosecution’s failure to lead witnesses.