Court Rejects FrontPage Africa’s Apology, Imposes US$500 Fine to serve as Deterrence
MONROVIA – Criminal Court C at the Temple of Justice has rejected apology made by the Management of FrontPage Africa, following their appearance to show cause it should not be held in contempt of court.
On May 18, last month, jurors listening to the 100 million United States Dollars Cocaine case at Criminal C handed down a non-guilty verdict in favor of all four defendants.
The next day on May 19, the FrontPage Africa Newspaper, in its publication, reported that it has received information from multiple sources that US$500 was distributed in the judicial circle to influence the jury.
On May 31, the Ministry of Justice through Tina G. Noring, Sheriff at Criminal Court C held the management of FrontPage on contempt charges for what it termed as the newspaper’s wrongful publication.
The Court then summoned the news organization to appear before it to state why it should not be held in contempt and to prove how the alleged money was given to the judiciary.
To disprove the allegation made by the media outlet, Judge Blamo Dixon of Criminal Court “C” put two of the court’s bailiffs who spent 81 days with the jurors in sequestration on the witness stance.
Abigial Freeman and Janjay Yatoe, in separate testimonies explained that the jurors were continually under security protection both at the Temple of Justice and during the time they were taken to hospital and to their respective districts to participate in the voter registration.
After their testimonies, lawyers representing FrontPage Africa Cllr. Nagbalee Warner and Cllr. J. Johnny Momo waved cross examination, and instead said, although FrontPage Africa did not see any wrong with its publication, it was sorry for any harm the story may have caused to the judicial system of Liberia.
The management said it was never its intention to blame the court or the Liberian Judiciary, adding it will never engage in any act or publish any story for the purpose of bringing to court into disrepute or undermining its dignity.
However, in his ruling, Judge Blamo Dixon rejected FrontPage Africa’s apology and fined the news organization US$500 to be paid in ten working days to serve as a deterrence to other media outlets.
But Criminal Court “C “Judge Blamo Dixon said the Government of Liberia lost the US$100 million cocaine case due to the failure of the prosecution to draw up the rightful charges against the defendants.
Judge Dixon, who presided over the landmark case said the charges were bogus, leaving the jury with no option but to rule in favor of the defendants.