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President requests more than 150 reports about directors and feature writer in connection with lawsuit against newspaper

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - 20 June 2011 - On 7 June 2011, President Rafael Correa, via his lawyers Alembert and Gutemberg Vera, requested before a Guayas region court that more than 150 reports and experts' opinions be handed over as part of the lawsuit initiated against the "El Universo" newspaper, its directors, Carlos, César and Nicolás Pérez, and editorialist Emilio Palacio on allegations of malicious slander.

The information requested includes reports on the work status and legal contributions made in each of the places where the accused have worked, a list of the company's assets and each of the accused's possessions, income tax returns, detailed information about shares and shareholders, payroll and profit distribution information, the company's financial reports, purchases and investments abroad and details regarding the travels of the accused over the last five years, among others.

The request states explicitly that "during the trial period that is taking place," the information in the possession of public entities, such as the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS), the Internal Revenue Service (SRI), the Deeds Registry, the National Public Procurement Institute, the Traffic Commission, the National Immigration Police, the Central Bank and the National Electoral Council, should be handed over.

According to Farith Simon, the holder of a doctorate in jurisprudence and a professor at Quito's San Francisco University, some of the documents included in the request are not relevant to the lawsuit filed, such that the legitimacy and constitutionality of the request could be questioned.

Xavier Zavala Egas, one of the newspaper's lawyers, stated in declarations made to the daily "El Comercio", that to request any evidence related to C.A. El Universo (the company that owns "El Universo") in this lawsuit "is unconstitutional and uncalled for." He also emphasized that "investigating the accused's fortune is not relevant," saying, "What has to be proved is whether they caused damage."

On the other hand, lawyer Alembert Vera told "El Comercio" that with these documents and reports they will prove that the slander had a "worldwide effect."

It is worth noting that, as part of this lawsuit, President Correa is requesting compensation for damages in the amount of US$80 million and a three year prison sentence for the "El Universo" directors and Palacio based on an article published on 6 February, entitled "No a las mentiras" ("No to the lies"), which referred to the president's behavior during a police uprising on 30 September 2010.

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