A High Court at Cape Coast has awarded 200 million cedis damages against out-going Central Regional Minister, Mr Isaac Edumadze, for making defamatory remarks on air against the publisher of the Ghanaian Chronicle, Mr Kofi Coomson.
The court, presided over by Justice Nana Gyamera Tawiah, also awarded 20 million cedis cost against him.
In his judgment, Justice Tawiah, described the statement made by Mr Edumadze, during a discussion programme on Peace FM in March 2003, that Mr Coomson had taken bribe from a politician to build his hotel in Takoradi, as "highly defamatory".
He deplored the fact that the out-going minister, could not substantiate the allegation, in his statement of defence, but rather said it was a "fair comment" because the Chronicle newspaper had equally defamed him.
Justice Tawiah observed that as a public official, Mr Edumadze's "words carried more weight than the ordinary citizen's", and that since the society was also prone to believing in rumours, Mr Coomson "had been lowered" in the minds of right thinking people, as the comments were made on air.
According to him, the claim by the out-going minister, that he knew that the rumours about the bribery allegation against Mr Coomson were true, was therefore untenable, because he never investigated the source of the rumours to ascertain their truth or otherwise.
In his statement of claim, Mr Coomson, stated among others, that the comments made by Mr Edumadze that he had taken bribe to build a hotel, as well as published articles to destroy innocent people, were false, malicious and damaging and calculated to tarnish his hard won reputation and integrity as a journalist and family man who is highly recognized and acknowledged.
He therefore demanded an "unqualified apology and retraction" by the minister, and asked the court to award him damages for defamation, "since he had been exposed to hatred, contempt and ridicule".
Mr Edumadze in his statement of defence denied that he had defamed Mr Coomson, and argued that he was commenting on a matter of public and national interest and that Mr Coomson was not entitled to any damages.