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Government official announces criminal defamation lawsuit against journalist

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 23 February 2010, Óscar Sandy, the executive director of Insumos Bolivia - an institution that is run by the Ministry for Production and Economic Development (Ministerio de Desarrollo Productivo y Economía Plural) -, announced that he will file a criminal defamation lawsuit against Carmen Melgar, a journalist for the Unitel television network. The announcement was made in La Paz.

Sandy accused the journalist of defaming the public institution when she reported that there was flour that had passed its best before date in Insumos Bolivia's warehouses. In order to refute this information, he invited the press to visit the institution's storage facilities.

Melgar told to IPYS and the National Press Association (ANP) that she had gone ahead of other journalists and verified that there were 950 metric tonnes of flour that had passed its best before date in the warehouses. The journalist also obtained an employee's statement disclosing to her that the flour "was going out" of Insumos Bolivia's storage facilities.

Faced with this information, Sandy had to admit to the existence of the expired product but denied that it was being marketed.

He also said that the lawsuit against the journalist relates to the "arbitrary and abusive" manner in which she entered the warehouses, catching the employees unawares and "making them say things that are not true."

Melgar, however, said that the employees in charge of the warehouses opened the doors to the facilities without her having exerted any kind of pressure.

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