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Korkoya Libel Case To Take Center Stage At Civil Law Court
Date Uploaded: May 01, 2017

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Korkoya Libel Case To Take Center Stage At Civil Law Court

By Ballah M. Kollie

MONROVIA, April 30 (LINA) - A former Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Mr. John Stewart, has responded to the action of damage for libel filed against him by the Chairman of the National Elections Commission, Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya.

The Action of Damage for Libel also involves the New Democrat and Analyst newspapers.

The law suit filed against the former TRC Commissioner and two media entities is for US$200, 000 for general damages and US$75,000 for punitive damages.

It can be recalled that on July 6, 2016 Stewart published an article in the Analyst and New Democrat newspapers with the caption “Assessing Presidential Candidate Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s Chances in 2017.”

According to Count 5 of Stewart’s response, he told the Civil Law Court Judge Yussuf Kaba that the entire complaint should be dismissed because Korkoya is a public official, Chairman of the National Elections Commission, a position that is subject of greater public scrutiny. 

Stewart pointed out that, his request for a dismissal of the complaint is supported by the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in the case Rosenbloom vs Metromedia (1971) in an opinion delivered by Mr. Justice Brennan in which the court made a clear distinction between public figures and private persons in terms of the standard for dismissing libel suits filed by public figures. 

Furthermore, the former commissioner in his second count of defense said, “the entire complaint should be dismissed because the law on defamation does not protect a public figure or public official and is open to public scrutiny at all times.

“Assuming without admitting that the statement complained of are false, mere fact of falsehood is not a sufficient ground for plaintiff to file an action claiming damages for defamation, unless he shows that the defendant acted with actual malice,” Stewart noted. 

Count 12 of Stewart’s defense stated that, “ further as to count two of the complaint, Co-defendant Stewart says that same is a mere citation of the opinion of the Supreme Court and therefore, does not deserve any more traversal than what has been stated in Count 10&11 of the answer” he noted.

However, Chairman Korkoya in his complain told the court that, “this is an action of damages based upon a calculated act of character assassination committed by John H. T. Stewart, the Analyst newspaper, and the New Democrat newspaper against him, a decent man who worked his way from the position of janitor at the Liberia Refinery Petroleum Company (LPRC) and has enjoyed a good reputation both generally and in his professional career.” 

According to Count 4 of Korkoya’s complaint, he pointed out that libel is one of the classes of injuries listed under defamation and same will lie when a defendant’s written words are false and injure the reputation, trade or profession of the plaintiff.

The case is expected to resume at the Civil Law Court in Monrovia subject to a notice of assignment.



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