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Newspaper faces bankruptcy after being ordered to pay millions in damages

(MISA/IFEX) - The High Court of Tanzania has ordered the weekly newspaper "Mwanahalisi", as well as two printing companies to pay a sum of 3 billion Tanzania shilling (approx. US$2,240,000) to Igunga Member of Parliament Hon. Rostam Aziz for alleged defamatory reports that incriminate him in a corruption scandal. The reports connect Aziz with a company named Richmond, which is currently caught up in a corruption scandal in Tanzania. "Mwanahalisi" has also been ordered to publish a front-page apology.

In February 2008, "Mwanahalisi" published a front-page article entitled "Richmond ya Rostam Aziz- Ikulu" (Rostam Aziz's Richmond in State House).

The article alleged that Rostam was the one who brought Richmond, a USA-based company, to Tanzania. Besides "Mwanahalisi", the others convicted are Printech Ltd and Standard Printers. The court's decision was in accordance with Order 8, Rule 14 of the Civil Procedure Act of 2002.

The "Mwanahalisi" management team is planning to take the matter to the court of appeal. "Mwanahalisi" was shut down by the government in 2008 for allegedly impugning the name of the head of state and his family. The editor of the newspaper, Saed Kubenea, was attacked with acid in January 2008 and almost lost his sight. "Mwanahalisi" has been at the forefront of exposing corruption in Tanzania, leading to the imprisonment and resignation of senior government officials.

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