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Defunct weekly issued hefty fine in defamation case

(MISA/IFEX) - A defunct Lesotho weekly, "The Mirror", its editor and EPIC Printers were slapped with a M50 000 (USD $8 000) fine by the High Court of Lesotho on 29 September 2008 for defaming Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Justice Nomngcongo said the publication, its editor and EPIC Printers were jointly convicted and ordered to pay M50 000.

Mosisili had claimed M250 000 (USD40 000) for the story published in "The Mirror" of 11 April 2001 headlined "Truth is a mountain, the Mosisilism seeks to take it on". The court said the story made political insinuations that were highly defamatory.

Justice Nomncongo said the newspaper allegations against Mosisili imputed opportunism, dishonesty, and criminality and even alleged sadism of him and his associates that they were enjoying life in Lesotho while many were suffering.

"There was no justification whatsoever for those allegations and the defendants negligently published them without bothering to establish their truthfulness," reads the judgment.

"The Mirror" stopped publishing in 2005 citing financial constraints. Lesotho is notorious for its insult laws which senior politicians and government officials have used against the media to demand hefty compensation. Often the demands have left media organizations bankrupt.

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