Martin Plaut | 15 May 2016 | martinplaut.wordpress.com
In the latest in a series of court cases the Dutch courts have rejected libel claims of Meseret Bahlibi, a leading Dutch representative of the Eritrean ruling party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ).
In the ruling the judge explicitly linked Meseret Bahlibi with the regime.
“4.8. Based on the foregoing, it can be assumed that [plaintiff] is linked to the Eritrean regime and the political ideology of this regime actively supports.
President Isaias Afwerki’s government has been attempting to use the Dutch legal system to silence it critics for some time, and this is the latest setback to their plans.
Below is an edited letter laying out what happened and the Dutch court’s judgement.
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
This is to inform you that last Friday a verdict was passed in favor of three colleagues (two journalists and the chief editor) of The Dutch daily “De Volkskrant“, comparable to The Guardian. The newspaper was sued by Mr. Meseret Bahlibi, cadre of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), the Eritrean regime, for what it published on January 27 of this year; a very critical article about the Eritrean regime and it’s long arm in the diaspora.
I am sending you the verdict in Dutch.
Mr. Meseret Bahlibi had demanded on 20 April during the court-session:
1. Removal of all front-page articles that were published on Januari 27,
2. Removal from Google and other search engines any link to those articles,
3. Rectification as written by himself on the front page of the Dutch Daily, De Volkskrant, on the print-edition, on the app-edition and online,
4. 50.000 euro’s compensation for label and defamation of which 15.000 euro’s to be paid immediately.
The judge rejected every demand of Mr. Meseret Bahlibi and his attorney. All the process costs and attorney costs must be paid by Mr. Meseret Bahlib.
This is the fourth (3 directly from the family of Bahlibi and one by their friend) court-case in a row to be lost by Mr. Meseret Bahlibi, his brother Mr. Abraham Bahlibi and their sister Mrs. Nazareth Bahlib.
All three are declared unfit by the Dutch authorities and organizations to do translation / interpretation work for Eritrean asylum-seekers and refugee who have fled the totalitarian regime in Eritrea. Reason: because of their relationship with the Eritrean regime.