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24.10.2004 General News

Gyaase Council supports Mamponghene

By GNA

Mampong (Ash), Oct. 24, GNA - The Gyaase Council of Asante-Mampong has stated even though it respects the verdict of the High Court on the Mamponghene, Daasebre Osei Bonsu II, it stood by him.

The Council further stated that the verdict had not in anyway diminished the status and regard that Daasebre Osei Bonsu enjoyed as Mamponghene as far as the power vested in it to enstool and destool any Mamponghene was concerned.

Addressing a news conference at Mampong on the judgement of the High Court, which cleared Mr Ben Ephson, Editor of the Dispatch newspaper of libel case filed against him by the Mamponghene, the Gyaase Council asked the detractors of the Mamponghene to pursue peace, which was the key to development as against their call for his destoolment. The Gyaase Council said it fully recognised the right of the Mamponghene to appeal against the judgement, pointing out that it was a constitutional right duly exercised.

Touching on the position of the Queen Mother, which is the centre of the legal tussle, the Council said to make or unmake a Mampong Queenmother was the prerogative of the Mamponghene.

It said the recent development had the potential to retard the progress of the traditional area and called for an end to the crisis. The Council also urged the public to be circumspect in their comments on the case while waiting for the truth to emerge from the legal tussle.

An Accra High Court on Monday October 18 held that the "Daily Dispatch" story of April 9, 2003, headlined: "Mamponghene in 264 million cedi-fraud" was true and the comments thereon were fair.

The Court presided over by Justice Victor Ofoe held: "Having found that the publication by the Defendant is true, it is my opinion that 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."

The Court, therefore, awarded a cost of five million cedis to the Defendants having thrown out a writ the Mamponghene, Dasebre Nana Osei Bonsu II filed against the "Daily Dispatch" newspaper, its Editor, Mr Ben Ephson and two others over claims that he was defamed by the publication.

The other defendants in the case were Mr Akawasi Mensah and Allied News Limited.

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 from in any manner 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 was lodged with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II; The Overlord of Mamponghene.

They said the publication was without malice and was 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. 24 Oct. 04

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