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Mayor files new lawsuit against journalist

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On Friday 17 September 2010, two public officials, Walter Ocampo Heras, Mayor of La Concordia, and Miguel Moreta Panchez, Municipal Trustee, filed a private lawsuit against Juan Alcívar, a correspondent for the newspaper "Diario La Hora" and a journalist for the radio station "El Nuevo Sol". The lawsuit accuses him of "terrorist aggression against public officials", in which they request that he should be "sanctioned with the maximum jail sentence" and a payment of damages that "should amount to no less than US$200,000.

On 20 August, Quinindé's Fourth Criminal Magistrate Judge, Kléber Samaniego, sentenced Alcívar to a preventative prison sentence after the Esmeraldas public prosecutor, Gorky Ortiz, initiated legal proceedings based on the same accusation as well as on declarations made by two municipal employees. The journalist was in hiding for nearly a month because of these proceedings and because he feared for his life.

On 13 September, the judge substituted the prison sentence against the journalist for a precautionary measure ordering him to appear before the court every 15 days while the prosecutor investigates the case. The investigation process continues.

In the new lawsuit, the journalist is accused of being one of the people responsible for having thrown a teargas bomb that affected President Rafael Correa when he was visiting that district on 19 July. He is also accused of causing personal and material and damages, and of "hatred" against the mayor and using the media outlet in which he works in order to insult him.

Fundamedios was able to ascertain Alcívar was just covering the events surrounding the Head of State's visit.

Fundamedios condemns this new accusation as persecution that uses the legal system to silence a journalist who has been critical of the mayor's administration.

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