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Politician, activists sentenced for slander against Ecuadorian President

UPDATE from Fundamedios: National court affirms conviction against congressmen and union leaders (25 July 2013)

On 16 April 2013, Judge Lucy Blacio of the National Court of Justice sentenced Assembly member for the Pachakutik party Cléver Jimenez and former union leader Fernando Villavicencio to one and a half years in prison for the crime of slander against President Rafael Correa, while activist Carlos Figueroa was sentenced to six months for the same offense. In all three cases the defendants must also present a public apology to the Head of State through the print media, television and radio and pay reparations amounting to USD 140,000, calculated on the basis of the president's current salary (above USD 6,000).

In the sentence the judge states that "the existence of the crime of slander typified and sanctioned under Article 494 of the Penal Code has been proven; as well as the participation of José Cléver Jiménez Cabrera (...) Carlos Eduardo Figueroa Figueroa (...) and Fernando Alcibíades Villavicencio Valencia, who are declared guilty and receive a sentence of one and a half years in prison and a fine of thirty one US dollars; to be served in the Social Rehabilitation Center of Pichincha". However, Figueroa's sentence was established at six months due to extenuating circumstances.

The sentence also "recognizes the victim's right to integral reparation, establishing that the defendants (...) should offer public apologies to citizen Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado through the print media, television and radio. The publication by the four media with the largest circulation (2 public and 2 private) of an extract of this sentence that contains the preamble and operative section of it, and as financial reparation the payment of one current salary received by citizen Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado calculated for each of the months from 4 August 2011, the date the accusation described as malicious and reckless was presented, until the notification of this sentence".

This case originated in 2011 as a result of the accusation made by the now convicted citizens to the effect that the president had allegedly ordered the armed raid on the Police Hospital during the events of September 30, 2010. The accusation was dismissed and Correa countersued for slander.

Speaking to the press, lawyer Julio Sarango said that the sentence is invalid insofar as Judge Lucy Blacio Lucy failed to comply with legal provisions to sentence the accused and the immunity of Jiménez, a member of the Assembly who was reelected last February, has not been respected in the process. According to Sarango, the National Assembly did not rule on whether or not it authorized the criminal prosecution of the Assembly member, so they intend to take the case to international courts.

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