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$30,000 for a Facebook Post

$30,000 for a Facebook Post
January 18
16:07 2019

Community activist Moses Sulph will have to pay former United Democratic Party politician Mark King $30,000 over a slanderous Facebook post, following a landmark court ruling in the Supreme Court this week.

On Tuesday, Justice Sonya Young ordered Sulph to pay $10,000 for aggravated damages and $20,000 dollars for general damages to King’s reputation. Additionally, Sulph has to pay King’s legal fees for his two attorneys, Steve Perrera and Payal Ghanwani. King said that he felt compelled to defend himself because Sulph’s comments over social media had damaged his political and personal reputation as well as negatively affected the profits of his business.

King added that the damage to his reputation could never be undone, but that the case is monumental in Belize because if the ruling stands without successful appeal, then it would set a new precedent in Belize as to the consequences of malicious social media posts. Sulph told the Reporter that he and his attorney, Arthur Saldivar, were awaiting a copy of the judgment to see what grounds were available for appeal.

The case dates back to March 2018, when Sulph made the post accusing King’s security firm, Brints Security Company, of not paying its employees money owed for special duties. In court, Sulph relied on witness testimony; however, the judge concluded that their testimony was not enough to substantiate malpractice on the part of the company.

The ruling is to date the largest sum attached to a case relating to a Facebook post and contributes to the development of case law dealing with cyber-crimes in Belize.

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