Liberia ALERT: Private newspaper found guilty of defamation, to pay 5 million US dollars or be shut down

Liberia’s Civil Law Court found the privately owned New Broom newspaper liable for defamation, ruling that it paid a damage claim of five million US dollars to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf or be shut down.

The court in its ruling said it gave default judgment because the paper’s publisher, Roland Worwee failed to appear in court despite series of court precepts served on him.

President Sirleaf filed the defamation proceeding against the paper in 2009 after it published an article accusing the president of accepting a bribe of 2 million USD from a western investor.

The September 3, 2009, article alleged that the president received the bribe from the Cavalla Rubber Corporation to award it a plantation in Maryland County.

In her lawsuit, the president among other things requested the court to render a judgment with monetary value of US$5 million, order the closure of the paper and stop Worwee from practicing journalism in the country.

At one point of the trial, Worwee wrote the court claiming that all the lawyers he contacted to represent his legal interest refused on grounds that the case involved the Liberian leader.

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