Journalist Rodney Sieh, now a free man felt a sigh of relief yesterday when former Agriculture Minister, Christopher Toe willingly informed the Civil Law Court through a three-count Bill of Information that he had waived all judgment, money and all claims against the judgment debtor (Sieh).
Journalist Sieh has been battling a law suit for libel filed against him for defamation of Mr. Toe’s character in an article published in his Frontpage Africa Newspaper and online medium in the tune of over US$1 million something Sieh had claimed to have evidence to prove.
Yesterday’s ruling handed down by Judge Boima Kontoe said the Bill of Information filed by the judgment creditor was said to have been in good faith and in the spirit of reconciliation. In his answer to the Bill of Information, the judgment debtor said also in the spirit of reconciliation request that the court waives all cost of court as it is the cost against the judgment creditor.
But the court said since the matter had reached the ‘spirit of reconciliation; for both parties, the only issue of concern to the court which was legal to discuss was the cost of court noting that the cost of court cannot be waived therefore the judgment is required to pay into government coffers US$ 350 in 48 hours and return receipt to the court’s sheriff.
The court also ordered Frontpage Africa Newspaper reopened and the judgment debtor and Rodney Sieh and reporter Samwar Fallah are relieved from going to further detention. In a joyous mood Sieh and his lawyers along with other supporters as well as his news staff left the courtroom and proceeded to paying the money and symbolically reopening the newspaper’s office for operations.
Sieh had languished behind bars for a little over a month though he was taken back and forth from the hospital where he had been undergoing medical care from time to time on orders of the Supreme Court for his failure to exhaust an appeal process entered by his legal counsels on his behalf following the lower court’s ruling in the libel suit.
Mr. Toe’s libel suit was against damages to his person and despite blind loyalty played by some members of the media both internationally and nationally thereby creating a political scene, a former Solicitor General Tiawon Gongloe told the media that Mr. Sieh did not follow the law.
But Sieh was released by Justice Minister Christina Tah from the Monrovia Central Prison under the Liberia Code of Law Revise clause of the Criminal Procedural Law Chapter 34 Section 34.20 which gives rights for compassionate Leave; a decision the high court summoned the Attorney General and Sieh’s lawyers to tell the court why they should not be held in contempt for making.
Attorney General Tah and Sieh’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court for pardon despite the lawyers raised issues that the court needed to take notice of but the high court reserved its ruling into the matter.
Following Sieh’s month-long temporary release from prison, he was retaken to the prison on November 8 and released permanently on November 9 upon the orders of the Supreme Court so that the lower court could begin to adjudicate or perfect its previous ruling.