12 November 2013

Liberia: Rodney Sieh Released From Prison Permanently

The Managing Editor of the FrontPage Africa Newspaper (FPA), Mr. Rodney Sieh, has been permanently released from prison. Mr. Sieh was released permanently on Friday, November 8, 2013 from the Monrovia Central Prison (South Beach).

According to information gathered by this paper, Mr. Sieh was picked up by police officers on Friday, November 8, 2013 and taken back to prison, following the expiration of a-30-day compassionate leave given him by the Government of Liberia (GoL). At one point, he was even placed under house arrest by the government.

It can be recalled that the GoL through the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 granted the Editor-In-Chief of the FPA a compassionate leave for the period of 30 days effective as of October 8, 2013.

In a communication dated October 7, 2013 and addressed to, Cllr. Beyan D. Howard, Mr. Sieh's lawyer, a copy of which is in possession of this paper, the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Christiana P. Tah, said this was in keeping with Chapter 34, Section 34.20 of the Criminal Procedure Law, 1LCLR.

According to Minister Tah, the government action was also based on a formal request by Cllr. Howard and Atty. J. Fonati Koffa.

However, she advised that Mr. Sieh will not leave the city of Monrovia without first seeking the permission of the Assistant Minister for the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR). Mr. Sieh, a prominent Liberian journalist, was ordered jailed by the Civil Law in August of this because of his failure to pay the amount of US$1,534,000.00 and L$10,500 to former agriculture minister, Dr. Chris Toe for damages in a libel suit.

In addition, Mr. Sieh also failed to pay US$90,000 and L$6,800 as cost of the court. It can be recalled that sometimes ago, Dr. Toe sued the Management of FPA for libel. Toe claimed the paper defamed his reputation when it published series of articles linking him to corruption. According to him, the published articles against him were not based on facts.

FrontPage Africa took an appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia, but was unable to perfect the appeal bond. Based on the legal proceedings, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court judgment and ordered the bail of Cost on the FPA.

The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of justice in the country.Despite this ruling against the FPA, the paper has since stood by its story against Dr. Toe. Mr. Sieh persistently stated that he did not do anything wrong.

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