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TV journalist in Bolivia faces defamation charges for discussing missing money

This statement was originally published on sipiapa.org on 25 August 2016.

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today asked the Cochabamaba, Bolivia, Judiciary Council for transparency, due process and access to justice in the criminal case brought against journalist Marianela Montenegro on a charge of defamation.

Montenegro, owner of Canal 33 television in Cochabamba, hosts the discussion program "Aló Marianela", in which she has been covering the disappearance of $119,800 that was in the custody and in the safe of the then Anti-Drug Public Prosecutor Claudia Mancilla.

The money had been seized in 2011 from a woman suspected of drug trafficking who was jailed and then freed one year later after proving that she worked as a merchant. Mancilla sued the journalist for offenses against honor. The authorities initiated investigative proceedings over the loss of the money and in October last year the Cochabamba State Attorney General's Office dismissed Mancilla.

For several years now, Montenegro has been denouncing "harassment, persecution, death threats and invented proceedings," such as the one presented against her by Mancilla.

IAPA President Pierre Manigault publicly urged the judge dealing with the case, Rosario Sainz, that the trial set for August 29 be held within "a framework of true transparency and due process of law."

Manigault, of the Charleston, South Carolina, newspaper The Post and Courier, declared that in delicate legal proceedings the IAPA shows its concern for due process, and he added that this case has the aggravating circumstance that a journalist could go to prison, an action that contravenes the country's very Constitution and international treaties on the right to freedom of expression.

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