Haiti’s Prime Minister Says He Was Defamed

     MIAMI (CN) – Haiti’s Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe claims in court that a Haitian-American publication defamed him in “outrageous, scandalous” articles.
     Lamothe and his South Florida business partner Patrice Baker sued the Haiti-Observateur Group and Leo Joseph in Federal Court.
     The Haiti-Observateur Group publishes in print and online, with its largest online audience in South Florida, according to the complaint.
     Lamothe, who was appointed to office in May by President Michel Martelly, claims the Haiti-Observateur “intentionally began to spread false and defamatory statements about plaintiffs to an international and unlimited group of readers, including Florida and Haiti.”
     He says the Haiti-Observateur defamed him in two articles that claimed Lamothe and Baker orchestrated a self-serving sale of telecommunications company Haitel to get a “lion’s share” of the proceeds, while “disregard[ing] the safeguards of the Haitian state and government.”
     Lamothe claims the Haiti-Observateur accused him of using his connections with President Martelly to fix Haitel’s $25 million sale price, and engaging in other illegal acts, including corruption, racketeering and conspiracy.
     “Defendants’ statements made in the website and through its article are entirely false and conjured to destroy the reputations of Baker and Lamothe,” the complaint states. “Plaintiffs, by and through counsel, issued a demand for a retraction to defendants. Defendants did not comply with the demand.”
     Lamothe claims that not only did Haiti-Observateur ignore the request for a retraction, it repeated the “false and malicious defamatory statements … for the purpose of destroying the public, private and professional reputations of the plaintiffs.”
     Lamothe and Baker seek damages for defamation.
     They are represented by Ronald Denman, with Perlman, Bajandas, Yevoli & Albright.

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