Government wants court to dismiss Catholic radio lawsuit

Monrovia- Liberia (PANA) -- Liberia's state attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the government by the Catholic Church to restore its radio broadcast rights, press reports said here Tuesday.
The lawyers are contending the issues raised in the church's lawsuit were "constitutional matters" which are "not cognisable" before the civil law court, a lower court, where the suit was filed.
The counsels argue that only the Supreme Court can decide "constitutional matters", and as such the presiding judge has no jurisdiction in the matter and should therefore dismiss it.
The church 20 August filed a petition for a "declaration judgement" for government to return the short wave rights of Radio Veritas it revoked last July.
Radio Veritas is owned and operated by the church in Liberia, and is generally considered the leading independent radio station in the country.
President Charles Taylor said the station's license was revoked because operating a short wave frequency in Liberia was "a privilege and not a right.
" The church said the action by government to revoke the license was a violation of the Liberian constitution, which guarantees the "right to freedom of expression.
" The presiding judge is expected to assign the case to determine whether or not the matter is above the court's jurisdiction.
This is the second time in less than two years that the government has acted to shut down Radio Veritas.
Already, a plethora of condemnations have come from local and international circles against the government's move to deprive the church of its radio license.
The government had registered the radio station's short wave frequency for 2001 and collected over 7,000 US dollars in taxes and other levies.

04 september 2001 20:00:00

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