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Newspaper fined US$900,000 for libel

(CEMESP/IFEX) - On February 17, 2010, jurors in Monrovia found the "New Democrat" newspaper liable for damages against the Consolidated Group Incorporated, a privately owned company based in Liberia.

In their verdict, the jurors want the "New Democrat" to pay US$900,000 for general damages.

Consolidated Group Incorporated was claiming US$1.3 million on grounds that the paper defamed its character.

The case grew out of a story the "New Democrat" newspaper published in October 2008 captioned: "For Scrap Government paid 800-thousand US Dollars".

According to the story, former Public Works Minister Lusinee Donzo went through Consolidated Group Incorporated to purchase some road maintenance equipment.
The newspaper, quoting an assessment document, described the equipment as scraps - something the company claimed was damaging to its reputation.

The defense said it did not accept the verdict and that it would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, after the case on February 17, 2010, a fray erupted between a reporter of the "New Democrat" and jurors who heard the case.

The fight started when reporter Boima Boima attempted to photograph the jurors while they were leaving the courtroom.

Court officers got involved with the scuffle, cuffing the reporter in their quest to put the situation under control. Reporter Boima's camera was allegedly damaged in the scuffle.
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