The case had all the hallmarks of a sordid thriller.
There was "a rogue politician, a journalist getting killed, a staunchly
incurious police, and the media in frenzy," veteran journalist Lansana Gberie wrote
in the New African, describing the fatal
2005 beating of editor Harry Yansaneh in
Nothing seemed simple, Gberie wrote at the time. And justice, it seems, has been elusive ever since.
It started on May 10, 2005, when Fatmata
Hassan, a freshman MP with the
The newspapers were apparently targeted for
eviction because of their criticism of the government, then in the hands of the
Gberie describes the scene: "The Hassan
team went to the offices of For Di People.
Young Harry Yansaneh, a recent graduate of the
Harry was rushed to the hospital, where he regained consciousness and gave a statement to police implicating Hassan, according to numerous reports.
But this was a case dealing with a
politician and, as usual, the police were numb on how to move the
investigation. All they could afford was take statement from the MP and "kill"
the case. This gave enough time for Hassan's children to decamp to the
The severity of the beating, according the
government's own autopsy, affected Harry's kidney. He could not recover, and on
July 28, 2005, he succumbed to his injuries. A huge outcry followed, leading the government
to appoint as coroner Adrian Fisher, a credible young man who had returned from
The political machine kicked into action, and MP Hassan was released on bail for what would normally be a non-bail offense. The Judicial Service Commission, incredibly, tried to discredit the coroner's inquest on the basis that witnesses did not sign computer-generated statements. The manslaughter case, unlike Harry, died a natural death.
Pressure from colleagues finally prompted
the government to file assault and battery charges against Hassan's children,
who are believed to be in
Here are the facts: A government inquest proved this young man died from injuries he sustained in the beating. Yet four years later, no one has been brought to book to answer for this heinous act.
Having just graduated from journalism school and enthusiastic about his profession, Harry was supposed to be the bread winner for his very poor family. The family is unprepared to take action because they are afraid of getting involved in a political quagmire; their poverty exacerbates their fears.
But the journalist association or any other
body could initiate a private prosecution. The time could be right:
Harry Yansaneh, like Anna Politkovskaya of