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Defamation case against journalists Renata Modesto and Marcos Junqueira reopened

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 26 January 2009, journalists Renata Modesto and Marcos Junqueira, of the "Comercio da Franca" newspaper, were notified by the city of Franca's Court of Justice that it would comply with a request issued by Prosecutor Claudemir Aparecido de Oliveira to reopen proceedings against them for the crime of defamation. The city of Franca is located in the State of Sao Paulo.

The case began in December 2007, when the journalists were accused of damaging the honour of José Carlos de Oliveira, Franca's chief of police. Carlos de Oliveira had been denounced by the press for abuse of authority. The "Comercio de Franca" report alleged that the chief of police insulted a police officer who was attempting to arrest a man accused of assault.

Upset by the way in which the news was presented, Carlos de Oliveira accused the journalists of having defamed him. The case against the journalists proceeded under the Press Law, which was enacted during the military dictatorship and which was contrary to the principles of press freedom.

The lawsuit was suspended in February 2008, after a Supreme Court decision, announced by the court's president, Carlos Ayres Britto, rendered the Press Law null and void. The public prosecutor's office, however, insisted that the lawsuit continue and the case was reopened on 12 November.

Renata Modesto told IPYS that the newspaper will appeal the ruling as the court proceedings cannot continue under a law that has been suspended by the Supreme Court.

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