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Newspaper ordered to pay damages in defamation case

(MISA/IFEX) - The High Court of Tanzania has resolved a case involving Former Minister for Good Governance, Wilson Masilingi, the local Swahiili newspaper "RAI", and its columnist, Prince Bagenda. The ruling followed a defamation case that was filed by Masilingi claiming that the writer and the newspaper published a defamatory statement in its edition of 2 August 2005.

The newspaper published a lead story on page one that translates to: "Minister solicits money from his voters to build a flat".

The court has ordered the newspaper and Bagenda to pay Masilingi the sum of 15 million Tanzanian shillings (approx. US$9,000) as damages for publishing malicious and defamatory statements about him.

The court instructed "RAI" to pay 10 million Tanzanian shillings, and Bagenda is supposed to pay 5 million Tanzanian shillings. In addition, the newspaper is required to publish an apology on its first and second pages, in words that Masilingi will be comfortable with before they are published.

It was ordered by the court that the damages be paid within 14 days after the ruling, in addition to publishing the apology.

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