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Defamation lawsuit against television station owner-manager re-opened

(PROBIDAD/IFEX) - A lawsuit for defamation and insult, dating from 2005, against Esdras Amado López, the owner-manager of the television station Canal 36, has been reactivated by the annulment of a ruling that had been made in November 2006 that the suit could not be heard.

Following the 2006 dismissal of charges against Amado López, the plaintiff successfully appealed the decision, thereby re-activating the case.

With the re-opening of the case, the journalist has been publicly summoned through announcements published along with his photograph in national media outlets on 30 March and 9 and 10 April 2007, asking him to present himself to the courts since he "cannot be located anywhere."

The journalist's lawyer, Marco Antonio Zelaya, says this media campaign "violates established legal process." In an 11 April submission to the court, Zelaya indicated that such public announcements are appropriate only when the individual being summoned cannot otherwise be located, something wholly untrue of his client, a public figure whose whereabouts are well-known.

In communication with the Comité for Free Expression (Comité por la Libre Expresión, C-Libre), Amado López stated that the public announcements "are not only an attack against me personally, but are an attack on freedom of expression itself, since the intention is clearly to intimidate me. I am completely taken aback, as everyone knows where to find me."

He added: "My lawyers tell me that it is the first time they have seen such an action taken against a journalist, that doing so and exhibiting my photo is illegal."

Charges were brought against Amado López in 2005 by the then-public official Jhony Kafatti, and stemmed from his reporting on Kafatti's alleged abuse of authority.

Amado López also told C-Libre that "we know from a trustworthy source that there is even a plot to have Congress cancel the broadcasting frequency of my station, though I do not have the evidence to prove it at present."

When consulted, members of Congress have denied knowledge of any such plot.

Amado López has denounced the public announcements about his court case on his television channel.

This alert was prepared by PROBIDAD with information provided by C-Libre.

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