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Newspaper editor harassed by Supreme Court

(CEMESP/IFEX) - November 5, 2010 - The editor of "Front Page Africa" newspaper in Monrovia has fallen afoul of Liberia's Supreme Court following the publication of a reader's opinion that was critical of the court.

In an October 27 letter, the Supreme Court cited editor Rodney Sieh to "help the Bench understand" the basis for information provided in an article written and submitted by a reader named Garsuah Gborvleh and titled "Biasness, Discrimination and Prejudice in the Angel Tokpah case". The article was published in the October 25 edition of the newspaper. The article accused Associate Justice Gladys Johnson of bias when she "arbitrarily drove family members and friends of the little murdered girl . . . from the court."

During a hearing on November 1, Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis called Sieh "arrogant" and "rude", and threatened to discipline him. Sieh had earlier accused the bench of being "dictatorial" for refusing to permit him to read a prepared text.

At the hearing, Sieh's lawyer, Counselor Musah Dean, refused to stand in his defense. Dean is also counsel in the Angel Tokpah case, which was referenced in the contested letter.

This left Sieh with no lawyer, and the court subsequently advised him to appear with a lawyer on November 3.

In his second appearance before the full bench of the Supreme Court on November 3, Sieh asked for time to appear with a lawyer. With this approval, Sieh was expected to appear in court on Tuesday, November 9.

"Front Page" editorials published on November 2 and 3 said Sieh fears that the court will not grant him justice in an impartial manner, given that he has previously published "misdeeds" of the Chief Justice.

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