The Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice on Capitol Hill, Monrovia has begun its first hearing into the Action of Damage for Wrong Libel lawsuit filed by Deepening Democracy Coalition (DDC) a conglomeration of four media-related institutions against Mr. Simeon Freeman, Political Leader and Standard Bearer of the Movement for Progressive Change party (MPC).
Mr. Freeman is a presidential hopeful in the impending elections. The complainants, in their complaint before Judge J. Boima Conto of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court, narrate that on Monday, September 25, 2017 and on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, the defendant, Mr. Freeman, published in the FrontPage Africa newspaper, website and other media outlets the libelous allegation against Plaintiff that states that “The standard bearer of the Movement for Progress Change (MPC), Simeon Freeman accused the organizers of the ongoing Presidential Debate of an attempt to extort US$10,000 from the party for its participation in the Presidential Debate slated for today, September 26, 2017.”
According to the court document, on September 26, 2017, plaintiff sent a communication to Defendant Freeman, demanding proof of extortion or to retract the claim in 24 hours, and that up to the expiry of the ultimatum and subsequent filling of complaint, the defendant had not retracted or proved his false allegations levied.
The court record adds that Plaintiff says at no time did any of its members, under the Deepening Democracy Coalition contacted Mr. Freeman for any monetary contributions or extort any bribes from the Defendant to allow him to participate in Plaintiffs’ Second Presidential Debate or for any other purpose.
The DDC describes the allegation reportedly by Defendant Freeman as being clearly malicious and libelous, which has exposed the Coalition to public ridicule; defames Plaintiffs professional characters, harms Plaintiffs’ relations with their donor partners and totally reduced its esteem standing in the general public.
The Plaintiffs therefore, requests the court to take judicial notice of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Wood & Co. v Gibson (1923) LRSC 1,2 LLR 409 (1923) (29 January 1923) where the Court said that “Action of slander into two general classes, the one where the words alleged to have been spoke are not charged the defendant with an indictable offense or tend to render the party odious or ridiculous in his personal or business relations; the other when the words alleged to have been spoken are not actionable per se, but only because some special damage resulted therefore.
Prior to going to court, DDC Coordinator Lamii Kpargoi, on September 28, 2017 wrote the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police (LNP) Gregory Coleman, bringing to his attention alleged forging of his signature by Defendant Simoen Freeman of the Movement of Progressive Change. By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne