Journalist ordered to pay damages over tweets

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Kuala Lumpur, Apr 28: A Malaysian court has ordered a senior ethnic Indian journalist to pay about Rs. 86 lakh in damages to a businessman for defaming him on Twitter.

This is believed to be the first such case in the country, where damages were awarded for defamatory tweets.

Judge Amelia Tee Hong Geok ordered R Nadeswaran, popularly known as "Citizen Nades", to pay Mohamad Salim Fateh Din RM 300,000 in general damages and RM 200,000 in aggravated damages.

The court granted a total of RM 500,000 (about 86 Lakh rupees) in damages to Salim. The judge also granted an injunction to stop Nadeswaran from repeating the defamatory tweets.

She said that since there was no defence filed, there was no dispute that defamatory statements were made which damaged Salim's reputation. The judge also noted that the defendant's column had a large following and that his Twitter account, with more than 4,000 followers and any number of casual drop-ins, would naturally attract heavy traffic.

She ruled that the defendant should have exercised greater care over his tweets knowing that they could and would be seen by many. Salim, who heads property development firm Gapurna Group of Companies, filed his RM 17 million suit in January last year, alleging that Nadeswaran had defamed him in a tweet on July 2010, implying that he concealed his heritage.

The plaintiff, in his claim, alleged that another defamatory tweet was posted in December 2010, where Nadeswaran had allegedly implied that he was a land thief and that he was involved in illegal land deals.

Nadeswaran's counsel said he will appeal the ruling.

PTI

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