MARCH 4, 2005
Posted: March 28, 2005
A court in the capital, Monrovia, ordered the offices of the privately owned weekly Forum shuttered for “contempt of court” after the paper’s managing editor allegedly missed several earlier summonses in connection with an ongoing civil libel case. The court also issued an arrest warrant for the managing editor Augustus Fallah, who denied having received any summonses, according to local sources. The court fined Forum US $200 for contempt, which the paper paid several days later.
The libel suit was brought against Forum in January 2005 by Melee Kermue, a candidate for the Liberian Senate and head of the local NGO Hope International. The suit stemmed from a Forum article published on January 4, which alleged that Kermue had fled the United States because he was wanted for involvement in drug deals.
Following the newspaper’s payment of the fine, the court ordered Forum‘s offices to be reopened on March 11. However, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) reported that court officers demanded a supplemental fine of approximately US $10 from Fallah in exchange for allowing the newspaper’s offices to reopen. The paper’s management refused to pay the fine, which Fallah said amounted to a “bribe,” and the court officers reopened Forum‘s offices on March 15. Forum reappeared on newsstands the following day, according to the MFWA.