18.10.2004 Crime & Punishment

Court dismisses Mamponghene's writ

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Accra, Oct. 18, GNA - An Accra High Court on Monday dismissed a writ filed by the Mamponghene, Dasebre Nana Osei Bonsu II, against the Dispatch newspaper, its editor, Mr Ben Epson, and two others, over claims that he was defamed by a publication in the newspaper. The other defendants in the case were Mr Akawasi Mensah and Allied News Limited.

The court awarded five million cedis cost to the defendants. The Court presided over by Justice Victor Ofoe, noted that the publication was true and that the defendants' comment was a fair one. "Having found that the publication by the defendant is true, it is my opinion they have firmly established the defence of justification.... And having found that the allegation is true, the defendant's publication and comments made thereon is a fair comment," Justice Victor Ofoe held.

The Mamponghene was in court on the allegation that the defendants had defamed him in the Daily Dispatch Publication of April 9, 2003, with the headline, "Mamponghene in 264 million cedi-fraud."

He claimed that the publication had tarnished his reputation exposing him to public ridicule and scorn and thus lowering his estimation in the eyes of right thinking members of the public. He was therefore claiming 500 million cedis in general damages and special damages.

Dasebre Osei Bonsu had requested that "an order of injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, representatives, workmen and those connected with the operation and workings of the defendant in any manner from continuing their malicious publication calculated to tarnish his reputation".

The defendants, however, contended that what they published was a copious reproduction of a petition alleging fraud against the plaintiff which petition was lodged with the Asantehene.

They said the publication was without malice on an occasion of qualified privilege being a fair and accurate reproduction of the contents of the matter before a competent and lawful adjudication body.

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