PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – a Haitian-American weekly newspaper has been sued by Haiti’s Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe for defamation over its reporting on the sale of a telecommunications company acquired by his government.
In the lawsuit filed Monday in Miami federal court, Lamothe and South Florida businessman Patrice Baker said Haiti-Observateur's reporting on the sale of Haitel was "outrageous, scandalous and reminiscent of a tabloid publication."
Special adviser to Lamonthe, Salim Succar said, "the newspaper spread false information about the prime minister and we are taking legal measures to request that they be retracted or appropriate remedy is given.”
Haiti-Observateur published articles in August and early September that "began to spread false and defamatory statements" about Lamothe's and Baker's roles in Haitel's sale, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said the newspaper falsely and maliciously reported that Lamothe and Baker orchestrated Haitel's sale, and that Lamothe fixed Haitel's $25 million sale price and stands to receive the "lion's share" of the proceeds.
Haiti-Observateur repeated the false and defamatory statements after Lamothe and Baker requested a retraction, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also stated that the Haiti-Observateur articles implicate Lamothe and Baker in illegal business practices, racketeering, corruption and conspiracy, which has damaged their reputations in their political and business communities.
The Haitian telecom shut down earlier this year because it couldn't pay its debts. It was then acquired by the Haitian government.
Lamothe, a former telecommunications executive, took office in May, filling a nearly three-month vacancy after President Michel Martelly's first prime minister resigned after just four months on the job.
The newspaper has been publishing since 1971 and serves Haiti's large diaspora communities in New York, Florida, Montreal and the Caribbean.