Justice Ministry's compassionate reprieve granted the detained published of the FrontPage Africa newspaper Rodney Sieh has backfired with the Supreme Court citing the Minister on contempt charges to explain the circumstances of her action. In a "Writ of Summons for Contempt" reportedly issued against the Justice Minister, she is expected to appear before the full bench on October 16, 2013 at the hour of 9:00 am for releasing Mr. Sieh "in disregards of the court's order."
Mr. Rodney Sieh's release last week was made at the request of his lawyers after the editor spent 40 days for his inability to pay US$1.5million libel damages to former Agriculture Minister Chris Toe.
A spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry argued that Mr. Sieh's case - which stemmed from the publication of a report from the General Auditing Commission accusing the then agriculture minister of squandering millions of dollars intended to fight invading arm worms in Bong County and several other parts of Liberia - was not criminal but civil in nature, giving the government the right to grant the detained publisher's lawyers' request for his temporary reprieve under the law. Mr Sieh's release was greeted with jubilation among fellow journalists who met at the headquarters of the Press Union of Liberia making solidarity statements and brandishing placards resisting the 30-day compassionate reprieve granted Mr Sieh. "Rodney Sieh is out of jail forever," declared radio program host T-Max Jlateh amidst thunderous applause from fellow journalists. Describing as a "gross mistake" the notion that Sieh would be returned to jail after the elapse of 30 days, Jlateh pointed out "Rodney Sieh is going home, and going home and free at last. My people, we don't make the news, they make the news and we report it. You don't blame the messenger, but the man who sends the message by the messenger,"