PNU official sued over Facebook post

Party of National Unity (PNU) official Moses Kuria has was sued by Safina Party leader Paul Muite and four others over comments on the social networking site Facebook October 21, 2011. FILE

Safina Party leader Paul Muite and four others have sued a Party of National Unity (PNU) official over comments on the social networking site Facebook Friday.

Mr Muite, Kenya National Human Rights official Hassan Omar, Maina Kiai, Ndungu Wainaina, and Wambugu Ngunjiri have sued PNU activist Moses Kuria for defaming them in a comment he posted on Facebook.

In what could be a precedent-making case in Kenya, the five complainants say that Mr Kuria defamed them by posting on his Facebook wall on or about September 29 a comment which read: "I have said Ocampo has no case. All he has are fake witnesses coached by Hassan Omar, Wambugu Ngunjiri, Paul Muite, Ndungu Wainaina, Njonjo Mue and Maina Kiai.”

They are seeking a permanent court injunction restraining Mr Kuria, whether by himself, or his agents from further publishing, or causing to be published the said words or any words defamatory of the plaintiffs.

The five also want to be paid general and aggravated damages as a result of the defamatory statementsand that Mr Kuria be ordered to pay the costs of the suit together with all interests accrued.

In their petition, the five say that the words complained of were understood to mean that they interfered with due administration of justice by manufacturing and coaching false witnesses.

“It also implied that we interfered with due administration of justice by coaching false witnesses in respect of the most heinous crimes under International Law, that is, crimes against humanity,” reads the petition.

It further claims that the words meant they have indulged and participated in the perversion of justice, procured false witnesses to mislead the International Criminal Court (ICC) and falsely implicates fellow citizens and that they are corrupt persons and are guilty of being dishonest.

The complainants stated that the words were calculated to disparage them in their respective professions and standings as politicians, human rights activists and respectable members of society.

"By reason of the publication of the said words the complainants have been severely injured in their credit, character and reputation, and have all been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt,” reads the petition.

They submitted that even after receiving a letter demanding that he apologise and withdraw the comments within 7 days, Mr Kuria refused and instead went ahead to issue another defamatory “press release” on his Facebook page.

They submitted that Mr Kuria reiterated that he would not offer any apology or retract the statements, arguing that it was inconceivable for one to try to curtail the freedom of expression in the social media.

Mr Kuria said in his post that he has significant information on the activities and role the five have been undertaking regarding the ICC cases and that their hands have been caught right inside the sugar jar.

They submitted that Mr Kuria’s reply implied that they have conspired with other unnamed third parties to pervert the cause of justice and interfere with due administration of law.



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