Case of malicious Prosecution: Court orders half-payment of compensation awarded to journalist

The High Court in Accra on May 8, 2024, affirmed its judgment which awarded GHc1 million in compensation to journalist, Osarfo Anthony, and ordered the appellant to pay 50% of the amount.

The order was part of the court’s conditions for granting a stay of execution requested by former Captain of Ghana’s senior national soccer team, Asamoah Gyan, who was found liable of malicious prosecution. Gyan requested a stay of execution pending his appeal against the earlier judgment delivered on December 8, 2024.  

The High Court, presided over by Justice Ernest Owusu-Dapaa, directed that the amount be paid to the court’s registrar within 30 days from May 8, excluding weekends and public holidays. He also asked that the funds be invested in a Government of Ghana 182-day Treasury Bill on a rollover basis until the appeal is resolved.

He said the arrangement would facilitate payment of the total sum by Asamoah Gyan should the ex-footballer eventually lose the appeal, while protecting Osarfo Anthony from potential difficulty in refunding the money if it is handed to him, only for Gyan to win the appeal.

The case dates back to 2015, when Asamoah Gyan caused the arrest and detention of Anthony Osarfo, who had published a story about alleged sexual escapades of the then Black Stars captain. The police arrested Osarfo on accusations of defamation.  They also charged him, with conspiracy (supposedly in cahoots with Gyan’s alleged partner, Sarah Kwablah), to extort money from the footballer in order to stop further publications about the scandal.

Following his acquittal, Osarfo, who was then working for the Flex newspaper and a blog, GHBase, sued the footballer and his manager, Samuel Anim Addo, for malicious prosecution.

On Friday, December 8, 2023, Justice Owusu-Dapaah, a Court of Appeal justice sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, ruled that Osarfo had successfully proven that Gyan’s allegation of extortion is false. He consequently slapped Gyan with a total sum of GH¢1,071,000 to be paid to Anthony Osarfo.

The breakdown is GH¢900,000 in damages, GH¢111,000 representing 111 months salary for the plaintiff who lost his job, and cost of GH¢60,000 awarded against Asamoah Gyan and his manager.

The Media Foundation for West Africa welcomes the court decision as positive and looks forward to the eventual triumph of the harassed journalist. While we hail the court for its initial judgement and its effort to secure the plaintiff’s rights, we urge the police to do a thorough job in investigating complaints to avoid violating the rights of suspects, as they seem to have done in this case.

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