27.10.2004 Crime & Punishment

Graphic, Ocquaye sued over Kojo T and NRC

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Ghana's High Commissioner to India, Mr Mike Ocquaye and the Graphic Communications Group Ltd, publishers of the Daily Graphic, have been sued ¢1 billion by an Accra Lawyer over an article in the Graphic that allegedly linked him with the criminal abduction and murder of the three High Court judges and a retired Army Major. The full text of the statement of claim, which was filed on September 2, reads: IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE ACCRA – A. D. 2004 Biadela Mortey Akpadzi, Deleric Law Consult, Suite 10B, 10th Floor (UCOM), Premier Towers, Pension Street, Ministries, Accra. - Plaintiff Vrs. Prof. Mike Ocquaye, Ghana High Commission, 50-N, Satya Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, 110021, India. 2. The Editor, Daily Graphic, Accra. 3. The Graphic Communications Group Ltd., Graphic Road, Accra. – Defendants
1. The Plaintiff is a private legal Practitioner and a businessman and lives in Accra, Ghana.
2. The 1st Defendant is a lawyer, political scientist, researcher, currently Ghana's High Commissioner to India, and a columnist of the newspaper called “Daily Graphic”.
3. The 2nd and 3rd Defendants are the Editor and Publishers respectively of the newspaper called “Daily Graphic”. 4. The Daily Graphic is a widely circulating newspaper, which is widely read in and outside Ghana and is also placed on the Internet and read worldwide.
5. The Plaintiff says that without any just cause or excuse whatsoever, the Defendants wrote of and caused to be published in their newspaper, the Daily Graphic of Saturday, 27th March, 2004 (No. 149088) certain materials which he knew or should have known were untrue and are seriously malicious and libelous of the Plaintiff.
6. The said article was published under the catchy heading “THE JUDGES' MURDER AND MATTERS ARISING”, the said headline having been carefully crafted to catch readers' attention and thereby achieve the widest possible readership.
7. The article, which appeared under the above caption, was designed to cause maximum damage to the Plaintiff's character by branding him as a self-confessed criminal, who the said publication states has confessed to having shown the murderers of certain High Court judges and a retired Major of the Ghana Armed Forces the houses of the murdered judges from where the judges were abducted and subsequently murdered.
8. The Plaintiff vehemently denies the said allegation written and published about him by the Defendants in their said newspaper and has been seriously libelled by the said publication.
i. The publication by the Defendants that “where is Mr. Mortey-Akpadzi, who is supposed to have told Tsikata that he (Mortey-Akpadzi) showed the houses of the judges to Amartey Kwei? In the name of justice let him come out and help us resolve this riddle. ……………… Or is this witness also dead?”
ii. The Defendants having portrayed the Plaintiff as a self-confessed criminal and someone who does not believe in justice or is unjust and must be so seen by the public and the world at large.
iii. The Defendants knowingly and wilfully published these statements about the Plaintiff knowing that the statements were not true or without having any cause to believe that they were true.
iv. The Defendants making these statements wilfully and recklessly without due regard to their falsity and knowing very well that they were going to hurt the character and integrity of the Plaintiff and affect the public image and standing of the Plaintiff in Ghana and abroad.
9. The Plaintiff says that the Defendants published the libellous, foul and offensive statements out of malice, knowing very well that the same were untrue and not having any genuine basis to believe otherwise, and also knowing very well the serious damage and/or injury the same would cause to the Plaintiff or recklessly without any regard whatsoever as to whether the statements were false or likely to damage or injure the Plaintiff.
i. Whatever the Plaintiff said in connection with the judges' murder was and is a matter of public record, it having been published in the print media and shown on national public television several times before the Defendants undertook their libellous and offensive publication.
ii. In issue number 149078 dated March 16, 2004 of the Daily Graphic edited by the 2nd Defendant and published by the 3rd Defendant, the truth of what was said by the Plaintiff when he appeared before the National Reconciliation Commission as to what he knows about the abduction and murder of the three High Court judges and the retired Major of the Ghana Armed Forces was published in a news item filed by Albert K. Salia and Mary Mensah, reporters of the newspaper under the broad headline “RAWLINGS WAS AWARE”.
iii. The Defendants knew very well that the foul offensive statements had never been made by the Plaintiff and were therefore untrue and would cause injury to the character and integrity of the Plaintiff and yet the Defendants nevertheless went ahead and published them.
iv. The Defendants having refused or failed to withdraw the foul offensive publication and apologize to the Plaintiff although the Defendants have been given adequate notice of the wrong committed and ample opportunity to retract and apologize.
10. The Plaintiff says that he has suffered serious injury to his character, image and integrity.
PARTICULARS OF INJURY i. The Plaintiff has suffered serious damage to his character by being portrayed as a self-confessed criminal and a person who encourages and partakes in murder.
ii. The Plaintiff has suffered serious damage to his character by being portrayed as a person who does not believe in justice or is unjust.
11. The Plaintiff says that only punitive and exemplary damages and an injunctive order will stop the Defendants from repeating their action.
12. Wherefore the Plaintiff claims as per the Writ of Summons.
The Registrar, High Court, Accra.
And to the Plaintiffs. The Plaintiff's claims against the Defendants jointly and severally is for:
i. Damages of ¢1,000,000,000.00 for libel for material maliciously and/or recklessly written and published of and concerning the Plaintiff by the Defendants in their newspaper 'DAILY GRAPHIC' dated Saturday, 27th March, 2004 under the caption “THE JUDGES' MURDER AND MATTERS ARISING”.
ii. A public apology in a manner agreeable to the Plaintiff for material maliciously and/or recklessly written and published of and concerning the Plaintiff.
iii. An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants, their servants and agents or privies from publishing any further libellous materials about the Plaintiff.
iv. Any other reliefs found due.

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