The Danish film producer Mads Brügger Cortzen has fallen foul of the Liberian authorities in connection with a dramadoc he has produced in which he bribed his way to diplomatic status from Liberia in order to buy blood diamonds from the Central African Republic.
“The government of Liberia will institute legal action against Mr. Cortzen and is seeking the appropriate explanations and redress from the governments of the Central African Republic and Denmark through diplomatic channels,” an online statement from the Liberian government says.
Brügger, who posed as a matchstick maker wanting to open a factory, seems unperturbed: “Let’s see what comes out of it, but it seems strange to me that I am the first one to be targeted,” says the film producer, who is currently in New Zealand promoting his film.
“If a journalist from Liberia had found it possible to bribe the Danish foreign minister and make a fool of Denmark’s leading company lawyer, it would be strange if the Danish authorities started by prosecuting the Liberian journalist,” Brügger says.
He says that apart from cooperating with the Liberian foreign minister at the time – who is now vice president of the African economic cooperation ECOWAS – he also had contact with the then chairman of Nobel Laureate President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party.
“They’ve a long way to go before they get to him, as how many others did I have to go through before getting there,” says Brügger, making light of the suit and suggesting he has no plans to return to Liberia, despite accepting he had broken Liberian law.
“The Liberian courts and prison service are not the best in the world. We are speaking of a country in which the president’s son is chairman of the national oil company, despite the fact that he knows next to nothing about oil,” Brugger says, adding that Liberia’s reaction may simply be a sham brought about after questions have been raised.
“It’s embarrassing for them. They have previously promised that they have stopped the sale of diplomatic titles, so it’s embarrassing that my film shows that is not the case,” Brügger says.
DOCUMENTATION: Read Liberia’s accusations here (External link)
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Edited by Julian Isherwood