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Three-year jail sentence against "El Universo" columnist lifted

(RSF/IFEX) - Former "El Universo" columnist Emilio Palacio will fortunately no longer have to serve the three-year jail sentence which a court imposed on him on 26 March 2010 on a charge of criminally libelling National Finance Corporation chief Camilo Samán in an editorial.

Just as a court was about to rule on Palacio's appeal against the jail term and an order requiring him to pay US$ 10,000 in legal costs, Samán announced that he was withdrawing his complaint. This means the entire case has been dropped. Palacio's strongly-worded editorial was written in August 2009, as demonstrators were besieging the newspaper's headquarters.

Reporters Without Borders hails Samán's decision, which means Palacio is no longer facing the possibility of going to prison, and hopes that Ecuador will finally decriminalize press offences when parliament votes on a pending Communication Law.

The press freedom organisation will refer to this subject in a forthcoming report on the visit it made to Ecuador in early May.

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