The Sierra Leone Olympic team coach John Keister has been convicted and fined for intruding into the home of a newspaper editor in Freetown.
Keister, a former international midfielder, could avoid a six-month prison term after paying a fine of Le250,000 (approx. US$60). He had escaped the most serious charge of assault against the journalist Thomas Dixon of Salone Times, one of the leading newspapers in the country.
Keister is also head coach of Premier League side FC Johansen – that was founded and owned by the Sierra Leone FA president Isha Johansen.
The assistant coach of the Johansen Daniel Conteh was convicted and charged together with Keister. Both have been asked to pay a compensation of Le1.5 million (approx. US$350) each to Mr Dixon who sued both men of intrusion, assault, provocation and public insults.
Thomas Dixon thanked his two friends Alhaji Komba and Pa Alie Sesay who are also journalists for standing by him and also thanked Umaru Fofanah, the former Sierra Leone Association of Journalist president (SLAJ) and Donald Theo Harding for their concerns after the incident occurred.
“This decision is not only for me, but it is a landmark decision for journalists and journalism in the Sierra Leone,” he added.
Keister began his career with Sierra Leone side Tigres in 1992 before moving to England in 1993. Since living in England he has played for Walsall, Chester City, Shrewsbury Town, Stevenage Borough, Margate and Dover Athletic where he was captain before returning to previous club Margate on a free transfer in September 2009.
However in January 2010 he was suspended from all his contract duties for a period of 14 days whilst his club investigated allegations against him of misconduct.
The former Shrewsbury Town midfielder has just only 2 international caps for Sierra Leone in his days with non-league side Margate. Keister represented Sierra Leone in two World Cup qualifying matches against Nigeria and Morocco, making him the first player from the club to receive international recognition whilst playing for them.
Football Sierra Leone contacted Keister for his reaction, but a response has not yet been received.
By Sahr Morris & Alie Bittar