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Editor Milton Chacaguasay released

(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) welcomes the early release of "La Verdad" editor Milton Chacaguasay Flores, who had been imprisoned since November 2008 for allegedly libelling a judge. Chacaguasay was reportedly freed on parole in May 2009 after serving six months of his 10-month sentence.

Chacaguasay was reportedly released in mid May after successfully applying for his sentence to be reduced, according to the Ecuadorian Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. He had applied to the Social Rehabilitation Directorate for parole in March.

According to the Ministry of Justice, Chacagusay may be able to request that the case be reviewed following the reported appearance of the author of the report that landed him in jail. However, the Ministry also indicated that the journalist was facing around five other law suits. It is understood that one of them seeks damages of US$400,000 on the basis of the conviction for which Chacaguasay was imprisoned.


BACKGROUND:

On 15 November 2008 Chacaguasay, who is the editor and director of the weekly newspaper "La Verdad", based in Machala, southern Ecuador, was sentenced to 10 months in prison for allegedly libelling a judge. The judge in question claimed that Chacaguasay had accused him of corruption in a report published in "La Verdad" in 2007. According to Chacagusay, the report was not written by him or his staff but by a third party who had paid for its publication. The piece reportedly requested the National Judiciary Council to review a sentence issued by the judge, who was not named, that was considered to be unfair.

Chacaguasay was acquitted of the charges in May 2008 but was found guilty on appeal before a different court on 15 November 2008 and sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment. He was arrested and jailed on 30 November 2008 and since December had been serving his 10-month sentence in a maximum security prison in Quito.

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