ANGRY jurors of the Civil Law Court descended on a reporter of the New Democrat, Monrovia,Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â with blows, injuring him and tearing-off his clothes, minutes after they reached a unanimous guilty verdict in a US$1.3m libel case filed by one of Charles Taylor's left-over companies, the Consolidated Group Ltd, according to a report in the paper.
Court officers, claiming to follow the judge's orders, physically forced handcuffs on reporter Boima J.V. Boima's hands, leaving him with bloody bruises as they dragged him before the judge.
Immediately following the assault that left the paper's camera damaged, the Court's Judge, Judge Yusuf Kabbah, slapped the paper's News Editor, Mr. Festus Poquie, with the charge of 'Contempt of Court' for instructing his reporter not to accept the damaged camera since the judge had promised an investigation, which the damaged camera would form a part.
The assault occurred after the jurors were leaving the court, with some of them covering their faces with plastic bags to avoid being photographed.
Prior to the verdict, the reporter reported to the court what he said was the plaintiff sending text messages, presumably to jurors, via his mobile phone. The judge then ordered the jurors to hand over their mobile phones. Court rules forbid contacts between jurors and parties in the case, but with the advent of mobile phones and other factors, enforcing such are rules is questionable.
The verdict followed arguments from defense and prosecution lawyers. Cllr. Marcus Jones, pleading for Consolidated Group Ltd., accused this paper of receiving bribes from angry workers of the Ministry of public works who sparked the publication of a story on how road-building equipment purchased from the company had never worked as expected. He claimed the workers, unpaid during the tenure of now sacked Minister Lusinee Dunzo, bribed this paper to have their grievances published.
Click here to read the full report, posted on allafrica.com.