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REGIONS:

President demands US$80 million in case against newspaper, directors and feature writer

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - 30 March 2011 - On 22 March 2011, President Rafael Correa filed a criminal complaint against the corporation "El Universo", editor-in-chief Carlos Pérez Barriga and opinion editor Emilio Palacio, accusing them of "malicious slander". Correa, who has filed the suit as a private citizen, has asked for a total of US$80 million in damages and a three-year prison sentence for Carlos, César and Nicolás Pérez, the newspaper's main directors, and for Palacio, according to an article printed by the same paper on 30 March.

According to "El Universo", the complaint, which the defendants have not been officially notified about yet, has already been filed at the Guayas 15th Criminal Investigations Court, presided by Judge Oswaldo Sierra. The judge is waiting for a signature of authentication by the president before deciding if he will accept the case.

President Correa's signature authentication was initially expected on 29 March, but a later date has been set because he was not able to attend court.

The president lodged the complaint over the article "No a las mentiras" (No to the lies) written by Palacio on 6 February, which dealt with Correa's actions on 30 September 2010, the date of the police uprising.

On 21 March, President Correa pointed out during a radio interview for news portal Ecuadorinmediato.com, that bringing newspaper "El Universo"'s directors and Palacio to trial "will mark a milestone in Ecuadorian history".

During the interview the president insisted that "not long ago a journalist said I should fire indiscriminately against a hospital full of civilians without previous warning. What are this newspaper's managers going to say? Well, that was the editorial writer's opinion. Lies! That's not responsible, that's not an opinion. That is an extremely serious accusation because the board of directors are responsible for the newspaper's editorial line . . . we are lodging a complaint against 'El Universo''s editors, not just its editorial writer," he asserted.
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