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Former minister seeks substantial damages from newspaper for alleged "publication of false news"

(MFWA/IFEX) - A former Liberian Minister of Agriculture, Chancellor Chris Toe, is requesting that a civil court in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, fine the privately-owned "FrontPage African" newspaper two million US dollars in damages for alleged defamation. The court began hearing the case on 3 February 2011.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent in Liberia reported that the lawsuit stems from articles published in 2009, in which the newspaper accused Toe, then the Minister of Agriculture, of diverting and misapplying millions of dollars in compensation for victims of a caterpillar worm invasion in Bong County, and for ex-combatants working on rubber plantations in Bomi and Cape Mount Counties.

The correspondent said that in addition to the articles, "FrontPage African" published several documents to back its claim, which prompted President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson to angrily question the minister in public.

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