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Newspaper found guilty of libel, slapped with US$1.5 million fine

(CEMESP/IFEX) - The "Front Page Africa" newspaper has been found guilty of libel with damages assessed in the amount of USD 1.5 million.

In a unanimous verdict rendered on 15 February 2011 at the sixth judicial Circuit court in Monrovia, the 12-person jury agreed that former Agriculture Minister Dr. Chris Toe should be awarded damages because "Front Page Africa" had not provided evidence regarding allegations that the former Minister diverted millions of US dollars belonging to the Government of Liberia for his personal use.

In 2009, the newspaper reported that Dr. Chris Toe, who was then Minister of Agriculture, diverted for his personal use millions of US dollars intended for Guthrie Rubber Plantation and the people of Bong and Lofa counties as a result of the army worm infestation in Liberia in early 2009.

Meanwhile, the lawyers representing the newspaper, Counsels Powo Hilton and James Kumeh, have taken exception to the guilty verdict rendered by the jurors and called for a retrial of the case.

The lawyers claimed the jurors lack the capacity to analyse the volume of evidence adduced before the court. They also claimed that the jurors were bribed.
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