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Former senator files US$5 million libel suit against newspaper

(CEMESP/IFEX) - Former Senator of River Gee County, Nathaniel J Williams, has taken the "Independent" newspaper to court for libel. According to the writ of summons, the plaintiff is claiming five million United States dollars in damages plus all expenses incurred "as a result of the defendant's malicious false article. . .".

The former Senator, who lost his seat in Liberia's October 2011 elections, takes exception to the Independent newspaper story of February 7, 2012 with the headline: "Nathaniel Williams Evicted for Owing 4 Months' Rent".

Details of the story stated that the former lawmaker was disgracefully thrown out of his rented house on Camp Johnson road in Monrovia. Mr. Williams said that the defendant's publication, which did not investigate the situation, was intended to expose him to ridicule.

According to the writ of summons from the Civil Law Court, the Independent newspaper Managing Editor Alfred F. Sebah, News Editor Helroz Zorleh, and the paper's Board of Directors are to formally appear on February 24, 2012 to answer to the cause of action against them.

There is a threat of a default judgment against the Independent newspaper if it fails to appear in court on February 24. The Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), through its Media Legal Defense Program, has indicated interest in the case by contacting its lawyers to provide legal representation.

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