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Nestlé wins libel case in Senegal

A court in Senegal has found a consumer agency guilty of libelling the Swiss food multinational, Nestlé. The Senegal Consumers' Association (Ascosen) had argued that Nestlé's sweetened condensed milk had unacceptably high levels of bacteria.

The court ruled that Ascosen was guilty of defamation and publishing false information to discredit Nestlé Senegal.

It ordered Ascosen to pay the local Nestlé branch SFr12,000 ($6,740) in damages and handed down a three-month suspended prison sentence on the Ascosen president, Momar Ndao.

Ndao said the Consumers' Association would be lodging an appeal. "We don't understand the judge's decision," he said.

He said everything Ascosen had said or written about Nestlé had been based on "concrete results".

Nestlé Senegal welcomed the verdict. Its director, Francois Mauduit, said the company had been vindicated.

"We just want to stop these people from causing grave injury to industry and investors," Mauduit said.

The court ruling comes three months after the Senegalese government officially cleared Nestlé of the charge and declared the milk fit for consumption.

Ascosan had waged a campaign against the UHT milk, arguing that it posed a health risk because it exceeded permitted levels of bacteria.

swissinfo with agencies

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