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Court upholds fine against "Frontpage Africa" newspaper in libel case

(CEMESP/IFEX) - 25 February 2011 - The 6th Judicial Circuit Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice in Liberia has denied a motion for retrial filed by legal counsellors representing the "Frontpage Africa" newspaper and its editor-in-chief, Rodney Sieh, in a US$2 million libel suit filed by former agriculture minister Chris Toe.

In his final ruling on 23 February 2011, Judge Yussif Kaba said the court is of the opinion that the jury which brought down the unanimous guilty verdict against "Frontpage Africa" and Sieh had sufficient evidence to reach the verdict and, as such, the Civil Law Court lacks jurisdiction to modify the sentence. Judge Kaba noted that, taking into consideration the nature of the case and the evidence presented in court by both parties during the trial, the court had found no justifiable reason to alter the jury's verdict.

The judge, in a summary of the case from its onset, denied the motion for retrial filed by the newspaper. Powo Hilton, a legal representative for "Frontpage Africa", said the verdict rendered by the jurors has been affirmed.

Kaba ordered the Court Clerk to inform "Frontpage Africa" to pay US$1.5 million in damages to Toe, plus court costs.

Hilton, however, took exception to the court's final ruling and announced that the case will be appealed before the Supreme Court of Liberia.

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