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Editor sentenced to three months in prison for libel

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 21 December 2011, Judge Leonardo Tipán Valencia sentenced the editor of the "Hoy" newspaper, Jaime Mantilla Anderson, to three months in prison and a payment of a US$25 fine for libel, based on a lawsuit filed by President Rafael Correa's cousin, Pedro Delgado, who is the current chairman of the board of Ecuador's Central Bank.

The decision reads: "The lawsuit filed by Pedro Miguel Delgado Campaña against the defendant Jaime Mantilla Anderson has been accepted. He is sentenced to three months in prison, a penalty he must complete at the Men's Provisional Detention Center in the city of Quito. The Pichincha Judicial Police are requested to locate and capture him immediately. He must also pay a fine amounting to twenty-five US dollars. No damages have been established as they were not demanded by the plaintiff, Pedro Miguel Delgado Campaña".

The lawsuit was initiated in December 2009, after the publication of several news items in the newspaper's "Blanco y Negro" supplement, on 28 September, 1 October and 2 October of that year.

In the lawsuit, Delgado said the articles in question aimed to misinform the public, damage his "image, good name and honour" with offensive accusations, which were "completely clarified". He added, "The only objective and desire is to cause harm to me and in this way considerably damage my reputation and my interests, and discredit me. For this reason, these allegations rationally deserve to be described as serious and damaging to my own status, dignity and circumstances . . . " The newspaper's reports referred to allegations of influence peddling, as well as problems faced several years ago by Delgado, who was also previously in charge of the No More Impunity AGD-CFN Trust.

Mantilla told FUNDAMEDIOS that the sentence "obviously constitutes a new move aimed at scaring us." He confirmed that his defence lawyer is preparing a request for the clarification of the sentence since they noted that Delgado had requested the indictment of a judge involved in the case and that, on 21 December, the day after the judge decided to withdraw from the case, Delgado abandoned the request and Judge Tipán Valencia then proceeded to issue his sentence against Mantilla.

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