Konneh May Face Contempt Charge

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After publishing in several newspapers their disagreement with the ruling of the Civil Law Court, which held Finance Minister Amara Konneh liable and ordered him to pay US$1.65m in damages to his dismissed Large Tax Payer Director, Eric Nagbe, the Minister may likely face contempt charge for his action.

Speaking to journalists yesterday at the Temple of Justice, Nagbe’s lead counsel, Arthur Johnson said, they are thinking of filing their complaint for what he claimed as “Konneh crossing the line of the sub-judice rule.”

He said the rule regulates the publication of matters which are under consideration by the court.

“Publication of materials which are sub-judice warrants contempt of court, and is punishable by a fine of an unlimited amount and or imprisonment for up to two years, “Atty. Johnson said.

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning on Wednesday, in its press release published in several newspapers, indicated that “We believe that the verdict and award was unsupported by evidence and we have in accordance with the law taken an appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia.”

The document further said, “It is important that the public take note that this matter is not over since the final arbiter (Supreme Court) of such matters is the highest court of the land.”

It added, “We are dismayed with the recent ruling of the Civil Law Court finding the Ministry liable for libel against Mr. Eric Nagbe and awarding damages in excess of US$1million.”

Concluding, the document said, “Once the matter is exposed to strict judicial scrutiny, we are confident that the Supreme Court will vindicate the Ministry.”

But, Atty. Johnson emphasized that “Their actions are unlawful under our law, because the publication creates substantial risk that the course of justice in the proceedings would be seriously impeded or prejudiced.”

He continued, “They rejected Judge Johannes Zlahn’s ruling and appealed to the Supreme Court to review it. Why couldn’t they include these legal issues in their bill of exception that they are preparing against the decision?”

“It is intended to interfere with the administration of justice. This action is intended to create public sentiment against Judge Zlahn and could likely influence the decision of the court,” Atty. Johnson said.

He added, “In my mind, their action is the ultimate contempt coming from a senior minister in the country who is duly bound to respect the Sub-judice rule under our constitution.”

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