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Former columnist faces second lawsuit for slander

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On Tuesday 11 October 2011, the Guayas Third Criminal Division accepted the lawsuit for slander filed by the state-controlled TV station Ecuador TV against the former editorial writer for the newspaper "El Universo", Emilio Palacio, accused of having committed slander against the station when calling it a "fascist media outlet".

Judge Eduardo Díaz confirmed to Fundamedios that the lawsuit has been accepted. However, he could not confirm whether both parties have yet been notified. This is the second trial for slander faced by Palacio. In the first one, which is pending appeal in a superior court, Palacio and "El Universo"'s directors were sentenced to pay US$40 million in damages and to three years in prison as part of a lawsuit for slander filed by President Rafael Correa as a result of the publication of the article "No a las mentiras".

The former editorialist, who went into voluntary exile in the United States on 24 August 2011, stated two days before he left that he was facing a new lawsuit filed by Ecuador TV's general manager, Enrique Arosemena.

This suit originated in a quarrel between Palacio and Ecuador TV journalist Gustavo Espinoza on 21 July. On that day, "El Univero"'s directors held a press conference to protest the unfavorable sentence issued by a temporary judge. When Palacio noticed that Espinoza was there, he asked the journalist to leave the premises stating that "he doesn't make declarations to fascists" who are part of "the propaganda machine paid for by the government".

Meanwhile, Arosemena declared in an interview with a government media outlet, "El Ciudadano", that "the aim of this legal process against Palacio is to deliver a moral sanction and to make him apologize publicly to the staff of Ecuador TV for the insults made in public declarations".

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