FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

Liberia: Supreme Court Suspends Justice Minister, FPA Lawyer

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Last October, the Minister was summoned by the high court to show cause why she should not be held in contempt for releasing the then jailed Managing Editor of the FrontpageAfrica Newspaper, Mr. Rodney Sieh.

The Supreme Court, which is the final arbiter of Justice, termed the release of the journalist as a disregard of the Court's order even though his rights to seek medical treatment from time to time while in prison whenever necessary was not surrendered.

Prior to the hearing, the justice Minister justified her position, saying she acted in the confines of the law. Among other things, she added that the decision to release Journalist Sieh on 'compassionate' grounds forms part of her function as attorney-general of the country.

It can be recalled that on Tuesday, October 8, 2013, the Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Ministry of Justice granted Mr. Sieh a 'compassionate' leave for the period of 30 days effective as of October 8, 2013.

The Minister said the action 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, Minister Tah 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).

The FPA publisher was ordered jailed by the Civil Law last August because of his failure to pay the amount of US$1, 534,000.00 and L$10,500 to the 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 the cost of the court. It can be recalled that sometime ago, Dr. Toe sued the Management of FPA for libel.

Dr. Toe claimed the paper defamed his reputation when it published a series of articles linking him to corruption. According to him, the published articles against him were not based on facts.

FrontPageAfrica 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.

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