The Lomé Magistrate Court indefinitely banned Tribune d’Afrique, a privately-owned bi-monthly newspaper, for defaming Mey Gnassingbé, a brother of Togolese President, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé.
The Tribune d’Afrique is published in Benin and circulated in both Benin and Togo
The newspaper was ordered to pay one million FCFA (about US$ 2,000) as damages and another one million FCFA (about US$ 2,000) for publishing of “false news”.
The local distributor of Tribune d’Afrique was also fined one million FCFA (about.US$ 2,000).
The newspaper was ordered to immediately publish the judgment in three newspapers with large circulation or risk paying 100, 000 FCFA (about US$200) on each day it would default in carrying out the order.
The court also ordered the withdrawal and destruction of Tribune d’Afrique with the offending articles being sold on the market.
These outrageous decisions followed a suit brought against the Tribune d’Afrique newspaper by Mey Gnassingbé on July 14 following news articles that the newspaper published linking Mey Gnassingbé to drug trafficking.
One of the articles published on the front-page on May 2, was headlined: “Drug trafficking at the highest echelon of the State: Mey Gnassingbé linked to network in Togo”.
According to the writ, the case of the newspaper was worsened by the fact that the Tribune d’Afrique displayed the photographs of Mey Gnassingbe and tagged him as “an insolent middle-class”.
The newspaper has since appealed against the judgement.
In another development, Komi Agbédivlo, popularly known as Didier Ledoux, a reporter of privately-owned Liberté daily newspaper covering the defamation trial involving President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, was arrested and assaulted by security officers providing security at the court for photographing the court building.
Meanwhile, the defamation brought by President Gnassingbé against L’Indépendant Express was also adjourned to August 29, following a request by the defence counsel for the court to do so.