Share & Connect
Today has been a tense day in the National Court of Justice in Ecuador. Three judges Wilson Merino, Paul Íñiguez y Jorge Blum gave a verdict against “El Universo” newspaper executives: Carlos Perez, Cesar Perez y Nicolas Pérez and columnist Emilio Palacio.
The accused where given a sentence of three years in jail, followed by an indemnification payment of $40 million for Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa.
One hour and 40 minutes before reaching a decision, Judge Wilson Merino asked both sides implicated, if they had found a resolution.
Monica Vargas, the defendant’s attorney express that the Guayaquil-based newspaper “has always been open to a solution”. She recalls that in the second instance the newspaper executives proposed the President to send a letter with the appropriated corrections made for its publication in the diary.
However, Correa exposed in his defense: “”in the face of such dirty tricks at this point in time an apology cannot be accepted.” The president clarified that he had to take action to the false accusations made against him, in a column written by journalist Emilio Palacio published by the newspaper a year ago.
Once the verdict was known, Correa greeted his lawyers, Gutemberg y Alembert Vera, his family, ministers, assembly members and the citizens which attended the court and supported him in the social networks. He exposed: “The country is changing; now you will understand that the liberty of expression is for everyone”.
According to the New York Times, “The defendants had called the case a farce and accused Correa of subverting the legal system, including allowing his attorney to write last July’s original lower-court ruling”.
The secretary of the Criminal Division, Honorato Jara, started by reading the list of lawyers involved. For the prosecution: Gutenberg Alembertand Vera, and for the defendant: Xavier Zavala, as judicial attorney of “El Universo”, Monica Vargas and Jorge Hernan Salgado Roditti on behalf of Nicolas, Cesar and Carlos Perez.
The first one to speak was Xavier Zavala, whom argument for the impossibility to declare these executives as authors of a criminal offense.
To portray his words Zavala used the next example: On a criminal situation you cannot judge the weapon which has been used to commit the crime, but to its perpetrator. The object used, has no will”.
The intervention lasted for around 50 minutes, and Zavala made a call to the adjudicators, claiming Ecuador’s Justice has been damaged during this process and has become “The international laughingstock”.
This has not been the first case of attacking journalist in the courts from Correa´s part.
According to the New York Times: “Last week, a judge ordered two journalists to pay $1 million each to the president or offending Correa’s “honor” and “professional prestige” by claiming he was aware that his older brother had some $600 million in government contracts, primarily for road construction”.
He has won congressional approval to restrict news media for broadcasting or publishing any material or information that could arouse opinions about candidates during election campaigns.
Image Courtesey of The Government of Ecuador