- The publisher of Liberia's 'Independent Newspaper', Sam Dean, narrowly escaped a death trap on 30 January. Several attempts to lure Dean into an ambush had failed.
Attempts to kill Dean started after a former general of the rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia, Godfrey “Spirit” Beyan, visited him, expressing intention to "buy advertising space" on Independent Newspaper.
However, Dean's car washer told him that the former general had offered US $1,000 to a former comrade-in-arms, Beyan "Fifty" Kamara, to kill the publisher.
A few minutes later, Beyan telephoned Dean, inviting him to "come and conclude the arrangements" of buying advertising space. He said would not be present but that he was sending his assistant. It was then that the publisher sensed that Beyan was offering him to Kamara to shoot him. He immediately alerted the police.
Kamara was the first to be arrested by the police. He then helped the police to arrest Beyan with the pretext that the "mission was accomplished" and that he wanted his money.
Paris-based Reporters sans frontières (RSF) described the death trap and the contract put on Dean's head as "very disturbing" and urged Liberian authorities to get to the bottom of the matter.
“We urge the authorities, who showed goodwill towards the 'Independent Newspaper' by lifting a publishing ban last year, to conduct a thorough investigation in order to shed full light on this incident,” RSF said.
Dean had received death threats after his paper made headlines last year for publishing a story and photos of a senior Minister for Presidential Affairs, Willis Knuckles, having sex with two women. Many Liberians received the news with shock and disbelief.
The disgraced minister tendered his resignation, apologising for causing untold pain to his family and friends. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf described the resignation as regrettable, although her government could not condone improper behaviour, especially by a senior official.
Dean was briefly arrested and then disappeared from public view, with the police denying knowledge of his whereabouts. The government also withdrew his paper's licence for a year for "disregarding" the penal code, which outlaws the publication of "immoral publications."
After a legal battle, the paper's ban was lifted by the Supreme Court in March 2007.
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