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Court Convicts Editor Of Enquirer   
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Raymond Archer, Editor of the "Enquirer Newspaper"
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The Financial Division of the Fast Track High Court yesterday convicted the Editor of the Enquirer newspaper, Mr Raymond Archer, for contempt of court.

Mr archer was also ordered to retract stories after he had failed to substantiate publications which imputed that a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Akwasi Osei-Adjei, and a former Managing Director of the National Investment Bank (NIB), Charles Daniel Gyimah, who are standing trial for allegedly causing financial loss to the state, had influenced prosecution witnesses to testify in their favour.

The publications, with headlines: “Trial of Ricemasters – Osei-Adjei and Dan Gyimah Boxed. Secret Attempt to pay off witnesses uncovered” and “Ricemasters Trial Bombshell – Attempt to pay off witness uncovered. Culprits to face obstruction of Justice charge,” were published in the first and second weeks of December 2009.

The publications prompted counsel for Osei-Adjei, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, to file contempt proceedings against Archer.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Bright Mensah, in his ruling, described the publications as “reckless and irresponsible” and, accordingly ordered Archer to retract them and apologise to the court, the applicants and the general public before Friday, February 26, 2010.
The court then granted archer bail in the sum of GH˘50,000 with one surety and further ordered him to reappear on Friday for sentencing.

Mr Justice Mensah expressed surprise as to how Archer came by such a story, which he (Archer) could not prove in court. He said much as he believed in press freedom and recognised the media as the watchdog over the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, the watchdog must be punished if it broke loose.

According to the court, Archer was guilty of the serious form of contempt because he had attempted to jeopardize the rights of the applicants to a fair trial. It said the publications were intended to excite popular prejudice against the applicants and for that reason Archer’s action amounted to a media trial. It further argued that media trial had inherent dangers because one was normally condemned well before he/she got the opportunity to respond to accusations.

The court, therefore, held that counsel for Osei-Adjei had proved Archer’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt and, accordingly, convicted him. After the court had read its ruling, counsel for archer, Mr Tony Lithur, pleaded for mitigation. The matter was called around 9am but Archer was not present, prompting the court to stand the matter down to 10am. Archer, who wore a dark suit, looked calm after the court had passed its verdict.

In the substantive matter, which has been adjourned to March 11, 2010, Osei-Adjei and Gyimah have been accused of willfully causing financial loss tot eh state for allegedly acting together to steal 2,997 bags of rice, valued at US$1,408,590.

However, lawyers for the accused persons have argued that diplomatic efforts embarked upon by the accused persons to solve the food shortage in the country have been “criminalized.”

The two have been charged with eight counts of conspiracy, contravention of provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663), using public office for profit, stealing and willfully causing financial loss to the state. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and were each admitted to bail in the sum of GH˘200,000 with two sureties each to be justified.
Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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