JULY 4, 2005
Posted: July 22, 2005
Frank Boahene, Free Press
IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION
Claude Decker, Free Press
Thomas Kpakpo Thompson, Free Press
An Accra high court sentenced Boahene, editor of the private weekly, and directors Decker and Thompson to 15 days in prison for contempt of court, according to local sources. Boahene was arrested and jailed the same day, while Decker and Thompson went into hiding.
The ruling stemmed from their failure to appear in court over the paper’s alleged refusal to comply with a November 2004 civil libel ruling against it. That ruling ordered Free Press to pay a fine of 80 million cedis ($ 8,964) to Agnes Sikarteney, regional police commander of Tema, for allegedly libelous articles against her, and to publish a retraction in three consecutive issues of the newspaper.
The court said the defendants did not comply with the order, because they only published one retraction.
Boahene was freed on July 18, the newspaper’s acting editor Mohamed Marzuk told CPJ. Decker and Thompson presented themselves to the judge the following day. They were not jailed but were ordered to produce evidence to support their claim that the newspaper did publish a retraction three times as ordered.
This was the first time a journalist had been jailed for their work since Ghana repealed its criminal libel law in 2001, according to Bright Kwame Blewu, Secretary-General of the Ghana Journalists Association.