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Columnist fined $40,000 for moral damage against Ecuadorian president

This statement was originally published on fundamedios.org on 23 July 2015.

On 1 July 2015, national judge Wilson Andino ordered the president of the Civic Council of Guayaquil and columnist Miguel Palacios Frugone, to pay USD 40 thousand as compensation for moral damage against President Rafael Correa, although it was the columnist who initially sued the head of state because of the insults the latter uttered against him during one of his Saturday broadcasts.

In the sentence, the judge rejected Palacios' lawsuit “for lack of evidence” and instead accepted “the twelfth and fifteenth counterclaims” of a total of 20 presented by President Correa's defense, referring to opinion pieces published by Palacios on the www.desdemitrinchera.com site. Palacios was ordered to pay a total of USD 40,000 for two articles (USD 20,000 each), plus USD 6,000 Correa's attorney fees.

The articles referred to in the sentence, in which Palacios allegedly caused moral damage to the president, are titled: “La loca pelucona” (The crazy rich lady) of 24 October 2008 and “Mis razones” (My reasons) of 28 August 2008. In both cases, the president's defense claimed that the head of state was branded as an “abuser of women” and other terms related to sexual orientation.

On 27 July 2010, Palacios sued the president for moral damage after he uttered “slanderous and defamatory accusations against his honor and reputation” during his 97th Saturday broadcast, when he called the columnist a “mafioso”, “rich kid from Urdesa”, “accused rapist”, “the Social Christians' dog”, “phoney”, “thief” and “tax evader”, as stated in the lawsuit. The president, however, counter-sued him, denying the allegations on the grounds that “the claimant has no legal or moral basis to file the suit”.

After Judge Andino's sentence was made public, President Correa's defense appealed that all 20 articles, presented as evidence of the alleged moral damage Palacios has caused the head of state, should be considered.

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