ECUADOR'S APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS LIBEL SENTENCE ON JOURNALISTS http://www.namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=170903
An Ecuadorian appeals court has upheld criminal libel convictions and three-year prison sentences for three newspaper directors and a former editorialist over a column that called populist President Rafael Correa a dictator.Voting 3-to-1, the judges also upheld US$42 million in fines levied in July against the executives of El Universo, the newspaper that published the column by Emilio Palacio that was deemed libelous.
Correa attended yesterday's court hearing. He said Ecuador has begun to free itself of a corrupt press.The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists expressed dismay, calling the decision “a blow to freedom of expression”.The defendants are free pending appeal to a higher court.Nicolas Perez, a member from the board of El Universo said “of course” we are going to appeal and will also take the case to the Inter American Human Rights Commission to file a complaint against the ‘irregularities’ of the judicial procedure.
In the controversial column in Feb Emilio Palacio anticipated that in a near future a new elected president “maybe an enemy of Rafael Correa could take him to a criminal court for having ordered to open fire at will and with no advance notice against a hospital full of civilians”.The column was referring to events a year earlier when a police mutiny in demand of wages and working conditions put at risk the life of President Correa and the democratic stability of his elected government, which was finally resolved with the cost of human lives.The column was considered by Correa as “a calumnious offence” and an attack on his honour and dignity for which he filed a claim and a demand before a criminal court which ruled favourably.
The ruling and the whole demand process has been criticised by Latin press organisations and human rights groups as a direct attack on freedom of expression and freedom of the press.Correa has had a long feud with the Ecuadorian media which he accuses of belonging to powerful economic groups only geared to the defense of their interests.A recent referendum with multiple options included a clause severely limiting freedom of the press and opening the way for this kind of claims, local media reported.
[I LOVE IT,EL UNIVERSO AND THE RIGHTWING MEDIA OLYGARCHY SHOULD BE REIGNED IN...