20 February 1998


"Observer" editor out on bail pending appeal

Incident details

Hannes Smith



(MISA/IFEX) - On 19 February 1998, Hannes Smith, the jailed editor of the
Namibian weekly Windhoek "Observer", was granted bail pending the outcome of
an appeal against his conviction for contempt of court and sentence of four
months' imprisonment. Smith has now been released on a US$220 bail after
seven days of incarceration. He has also been given leave to appeal against
his sentence. Speaking after his release, Smith said he was well
looked-after in prison and was allowed time to do some gardening.

**Updates IFEX alert dated 13 February 1998**

Background Information

Judge Nic Hannah jailed Smith on 12 February for failing to produce court
documents related to a 27 January 1996 "Observer" story on Anton Lubowski,
the assassinated lawyer and political activist of the ruling South West
African People's Organisation (SWAPO). Lubowski was gunned down outside his
home in September 1989. The story, quoting these documents, revealed details
on the murder plot and suggested "The Observer" may have had some
information on who actually pulled the trigger. Smith's failure to produce
the documents, and subsequent change of statements on their whereabouts, led
Judge Hanna to slap him with a four month jail term for contempt of court.
Judge Hanna was conducting the second inquest into Lubowski's killing.


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