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Newspaper threatened with lawsuit over alleged defamation

(CEMESP/IFEX) - "The National Chronicle", one of Liberia's daily newspapers, has been threatened with a lawsuit by a member of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's inner circle.

Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company Managing Director Harry Greaves threatened to drag the newspaper to court if it fails to retract a story attributed to him in its 31 March 2008 edition, captioned: "For Greed of Power and wealth: Harry Greaves Financed Taylor's war-Killed 250,00 Innocent Liberians."

According to the Dunbar and Dunbar Law offices, representing the legal interests of Mr. Greaves, the allegations against their client are false.

In a 31 March letter addressed to the Management of "The National Chronicle" newspaper, the Dunbar and Dunbar Law offices claimed the publication was a deliberate attempt by "The National Chronicle" to defame the good name and reputation of its Client Harry Greaves

Mr. Greaves and his lawyers have given "The National Chronicle" up to seven days to retract the story or face a law suit.

But the Managing Editor of "The National Chronicle" newspaper, Emmanuel Akyempong told CEMESP that his newspaper stands by the story. He said they have no intention to retract a story that was written on the basis of truth.

Editor Akyempong said his newspaper will not concede to Mr. Greaves' letter from his legal counsel, saying "we are prepared to go to court following the seven-day ultimatum".

CEMESP especially calls against this suit because it is "politically motivated and intended to intimidate the media outlet/journalist from criticizing Mr. Greaves".

"The National Chronicle"'s reference to Greaves' involvement is not a new issue, considering that similar claims had been brought to the fore by a former official of the rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), indicating the involvement of President Sirleaf, Greaves and other members of the establishment in the formation of the rebel group in the 1980s ( http://www.theliberiandialogue.org/articles/c091505tws.htm ).

Mr. Thomas Woewiyu, Defense Minister of the NPFL, challenged President Sirleaf, Greaves and others to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to explain their role in the civil war. To date, these claims remain unchallenged.

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