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Newspaper prohibited from writing about chief justice

(MISA/IFEX) - The Government of Swaziland has prohibited the privately-owned "Times of Swaziland" newspaper from continuing to write about Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi, who has caused an uproar by suspending Justice Thomas Masuku and levelling 12 charges against him that he will have to answer to before the end of July 2011.

Security police stormed the "Times of Swaziland" office on 12 July 2011, serving the editor with a court order to stop publishing any articles about the chief justice. After scrutiny, the newspaper's editorial team found that the court order had no case number. In addition, the "Times of Swaziland" was not given an opportunity to defend itself before the High Court. The editorial team decided to go ahead with the articles and risk annoying the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). The attorney general, Majahenkaba Dlamini, is said to be angry with the "Times of Swaziland" for failing to respect court orders and has "declared war" against the newspaper.


BACKGROUND:

Chief Justice Ramodibedi suspended Justice Masuku for insubordination and insulting the king, among other charges, following a judgment Masuku delivered. The Chief Justice suspended Masuku as the head of the JSC, even though constitutionally only the king can suspend justices. This has caused an uproar in the judiciary and the Swaziland Law Society decided to suspend its services for three days.

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