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Liberian newspaper faces exorbitant fine in libel case

On 15 July 2013, the Supreme Court of Liberia ordered the civil law court to enforce its ruling against FrontPage Africa newspaper, after the paper failed to complete its appeal process. On 13 February, 2011, the Civil Law Court rendered a final judgment against the paper in a US $2 million libel suit brought against the news agency and its publisher, Mr. Rodney Sieh. The trial jury rendered a unanimous verdict that held the newspaper liable for damages in a libel suit against it by former Liberian Agriculture Minister, Dr. Chris Toe.

In 2010, Dr. Chris Toe filed an eighteen count complaint in the Civil Law Court, a suit seeking damages for libel against him by FrontPage Africa newspaper and the FrontPage Internet news organ. In the complaint, they alleged that the defendant – with malicious intent to injure [Dr. Chris Toe's] image and damage the reputation he developed over the years – had published a number of deliberately false and malicious stories on the Internet and in the newspaper.

Responding to the Supreme Court's order, plaintiff Rodney Sieh rejected the allegations made by the defendants and said that he stands by the story he had published earlier.

Meanwhile, the Center for Media studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP), which runs a media legal defense program in Liberia, is currently holding talks with the management of the newspaper, to ensure that the matter is persuaded at the regional court.

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