The Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Briamah says the ruling by the High Court Judge in the defamation case filed by Investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas against MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong defamed the complainant.
This, he explained in an interview on JoyNews’ Newfile on Saturday, is because the Judges’ decision “went beyond probing whether what Kennedy Agyapong said was true, or not true, justifiable, fair and whatever, to actually himself defaming the character of Anas.”
He added that “I believe that if this was being said on the streets that would have amounted to another instance of defamation.”
According to him, the judge’s ruling was baffling.
“From the ruling, the defendant admits saying all that, he says yes, I made all those claims, but I will prove that what I said they were true, were justified and they were fair. So what I was reading, I was following it that way. So okay, this is going to be interesting. I’m going to see how, whether or not it was proven that these claims of not being a thief, a murderer whatever, is it how it was proven in court?…
“I saw a clear instance of, you know, the whole case moving beyond whether Kennedy was able to prove that Anas is a murderer, extortionist etc to the judge examining the methodology Anas uses and whether or not journalistically that is appropriate or not appropriate. And then I asked myself there, oh, was this judge a journalist before becoming a judge?
“Or was he an academic in the media sector before becoming a judge? Because clearly, he was trying to establish what is right and what is wrong to the point where he then goes on to say, what has been practiced is not investigative journalism, but something else,” Mr. Braimah wondered.
It would be recalled that in 2018, investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas dragged the vociferous lawmaker, Kennedy Agyapong to court for defamation in the “Who watches the watchman?” documentary and demanded GH¢25 million in damages.
But the court in its ruling on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, said the suit lacks merit.
The judge therefore dismissed the defamation suit.
The judge, Justice Eric Baah, also upheld arguments by Mr. Agyapong that Anas is an extortionist and a blackmailer.
“What the plaintiff is doing is not investigative journalism but investigative terrorism.
“ It is [an] exercise of indirect political power under the cloak of journalism,” the Justice of the Court of Appeal who was sitting in with additional responsibility as a High Court judge said in his judgment.
He, however, noted that although the words spoken against Anas were factual and capable of defamation, they could not be proven.
The presiding judge subsequently awarded costs of GH¢50,000 against Anas.
Meanwhile, Investigative Journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas says his defamation suit against Mr. Agyapong, is far from over.
In a short video, the investigative journalist uploaded on Facebook, Anas says he will be seeking an appeal on Justice Eric Baah’s pronouncements on the case.
Mr Aremeyaw Anas was of the view that the pronouncement of the judge appeared to be a criminal pronouncement against him although he was a plaintiff in the defamation suit.
“Although the news about the dismissal of our defamation suit against the Member of Parliament was unexpected, I disagree with the judge’s reason based on law and the facts.
“My team of lawyers and I have carefully studied the judgement delivered by the court and we are unanimous that the judge made an overreach and descended into the arena and made a criminal pronouncement about me as if I was standing a criminal trial,” he said.
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