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Journalist sentenced to two and a half years in prison for defamation

(ANP/IFEX) - 15 March 2012 - A judge has sentenced journalist Rogelio Peláez to two years and six months in jail for the crimes of "defamation, libel and spreading insults" for his use of metaphors in his articles about a lawyer who had collected excessively high legal fees.

Peláez reported that the lawyer, Waldo Molina, who was representing public servant retirees, had charged exorbitant rates for his work. The journalist had used expressions such as "un robo con la ley en la mano" - roughly meaning "using the law to steal" - on the cover page of the monthly "Larga Vista", of which he is the editor.

Molina opted to use article 27 of the 1925 Print Law against Peláez. The legislation allows anyone who feels they have been offended by a publication to bring a lawsuit before a regular court rather than a special court for journalists.

On 8 March, the third sentencing judge, René Delgado, handed down the sentence saying that Peláez had accused Molina of robbery and appropriating funds from a legal process, which had impacted on the plaintiff's reputation.

During the trial, the judge debated the meaning of the "Larga Vista" headlines. However, the judgment did not consider the validity of Peláez's accusations.

After the sentence was pronounced, Peláez said he would appeal it and the Association of La Paz Journalists (Asociación de Periodistas de La Paz, APLP) offered to provide him with legal assistance.
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