Botswana newspaper pays dearly for defamation

Gaborone- Botswana (PANA) -- A high court in Gaborone has awarded 250,000 Pula or 40,000 US dollars in damages to a Botswana judge who sued a local newspaper for defamation.
High court judge Maruping Dibotelo had gone to court seeking five million Pula in damages from Mmegi, a Gaborone-published weekly, for defamation of character.
Instead, he was awarded 250,000 with a 10 percent interest per annum.
In its latest edition, the Mmegi Monitor quotes the presiding Judge, Justice Esmael Chatikobo, as saying Wednesday that what The judge had initially demanded was "way out of line with any comparable claims in this jurisdiction or elsewhere".
The judge dismissed a proposed Pula 40,000 out of court settlement as too small to merit consideration.
The pula 250,000 award is considered the highest ever awarded an individual for defamation in Botswana.
Justice Maruping filed a suit after Mmegi published an article claiming that he had swindled a client of 7,500 pula paid through his firm, Dibotele Gaongalelwe law firm.
The court found the claim to be misleading since the judge was no longer working with the law firm at the time the article was written.
Mmengi's owner had earlier pleaded with the court that the fine was punitive and that it might drive the publication out of business, if implemented.

16 Novembro 2001 12:10:00

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