The Managing Editor of The Enquirer newspaper, Raymond Archer, and his company, Focal Media Limited have been fined GH˘1,200 each for contempt, and in default, Raymond will spend two weeks in prison with hard labour.
The Fast Track High Court which on Wednesday convicted Raymond of contempt of court for the publication of commentary said to be prejudicial to a pending trial involving a former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Akwasi Osei Adjei, today imposed a 100 penalty units fine each on Raymond and his publishers, Focal Media.
He was also required to retract the publication and apologise to the court and parties in the litigation, an order he complied with in Friday's edition of the paper.
Mr Godfred Odame, counsel for the applicant (Osei Adjei) told Myjoyonline that his client is satisfied with the ruling, explaining “we think that it [the sentence] will reform him...so we are satisfied, after all the purpose of it was to preserve the administration of justice”.
Mr Odame had prayed to the court presided over by Justice Bright Mensah to impose a stiff punishment on the respondents, describing the second respondent (Raymond Archer) as a “habitual contemnor”.
He cited a previous case in which Mr Archer was convicted for similar offences but “that did not deter him nor reform him”, and remarked that to serve as deterrent to the respondents and to fellow media practitioners, he said “very lenient custodian sentence should be imposed or substantial cost should be awarded to the applicant”.
But the respondents’ lawyer, Mr Tony Lithur, pleaded with the court not to admit the submission cited by the applicant’s lawyer because it happened about five years ago and for “a media person to suffer a custodian sentence is a bit unusual”.
Justice Bright Mensah did not agree that the five-year contempt case should have a bearing on the current one.
He acknowledged the remorse shown by the respondents and quoted Proverbs 28:13 “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” He, therefore, noted that the court had accepted the apology rendered to it and the retraction in The Enquirer newspaper. Justice Mensah, therefore, decided to “temper justice with mercy” and convicted the respondents to 100 penalty units each or in default two weeks in prison.
He also charged Mr Archer to be “a good child” next time and “when he goes back he should tell his friends (journalists) they should not do what he did that has brought him here”.
Before the ruling, Mr Archer who sat in the courtroom and dressed in a brown shirt showed his appreciation of the fine with a cheerful smile. Mr Archer was welcomed outside the courtroom by his fans, mostly NDC fanatics, who mobbed and shook hands with him to congratulate him.
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