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29.07.2005 General News

"I cannot prove that Dr Addo-Kufuor was involved in serial murder of

GNA

women" - "National Democrat" Editor

Accra, July 28, GNA - Mr Ebenezer Josiah, Former Editor of the "National Democrat", a private bi-weekly newspaper, on Thursday told an Accra Fast High Court that he had no defence against a writ Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Minister of Defence, had brought against him and publishers of the newspaper.

Mr Josiah told the Court that he had no defence to the action as he could not prove or justify the allegations contained in the publication. Mr Josiah further told the Court that he had on November 28, 2004 retracted the whole story and apologized to the Minister but the Court said it had no evidence to that effect.

The National Democrat in its October 4-6, 2004 edition published a front-page article, which read: "Addo-Kufuor in Trouble - Has a case to answer on the serial killings." The article accompanied by Dr Addo-Kufuor's pictures, further posed a question, which read, "Hon. Addo-Kufuor - Will he tell the truth?" In his suit, Dr Addo-Kufuor stated among other things that he issued a statement to the defendants denying those articles but they refused to withdraw the offending publication and to apologise to him.

Dr Addo-Kufuor, therefore, dragged Former Editor of the "National Democrat" and DDD Publications, publishers of the newspaper, to court seeking two relieves, including substantial damages for libel and a perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants and their agents among others from printing and publishing any further libellous material against him. The Court slapped 400 million cedis damages on Mr Josiah and DDD Publications for publishing malicious articles about Dr Addo-Kufuor. The Court further awarded 10 million cedis cost against the two Defendants. It, however, dismissed a relief that sought to pray for an injunction to restrain the defendants and their agents, assigns, heir among others from printing or publishing further defamatory publication saying it had no authority to do so.

Mr Josiah in his defence told the Court that he had on November 28, 2004 retracted the whole story and apologized to the Minister. But the Court said no such evidence was placed before it. In the case of DDD publication it noted that despite a publication of hearing notices in the "Daily Graphic" on June 25, 2005, it failed to appear in Court. The Court, therefore, fixed a date for assessment of damages after entering judgment in favour of Dr Addo-Kufuor.

The Court said the article without doubt portrayed that Dr Addo-Kufuor as a murderer, who was involved in the serial killing of women between 1999 and 2000 for which one Charles Quansah was arrested, tried and convicted as one of those involved in the murders. It further noted that the National Democrat had no fixed offices in

the country from which they operated. "I wish to state without fear of contradiction that the Second Defendant 'DDD' Publication, from the records before the court, turned to be a faceless entity as its registered offices could not be traced anywhere for personal service. The people behind it too are not known," the Court said. It further noted that the "National Democrat" newspaper was printed in a mobile fashion from one private printing house to another to avoid any detection of its real source of publication adding that that was why they failed to enter appearance.

The Court described the actions of newspaper as very serious saying "it in fact renders the continuous operations illegal". The Court condemned irresponsible journalism, saying it had been the catalyst of most civil wars on the African Continent. "In the same vein we, as the Court, have the responsibility to bring journalists to book and to teach them to be civil in their practice by placing them in the right places that they belong to so that their actions do not become the breeding grounds for chaos and political adventurism."

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