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Supreme Court to review case involving writer and former first lady

(CEPET/IFEX) - On 4 June 2009, Mexico's Supreme Court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, SCJN) decided to admit for examination an appeal for constitutional relief brought forward by writer Olga Wornat. Wornat filed an appeal after a Federal District Superior Court (Tribunal Superior de Justicia del Distrito Federal, TSJDF) bench determined that she should pay 500,000 pesos (approx. US$36,000) in "moral damages" to former first lady Marta Sahagún for having published details about the annulment of Sahagún's previous marriage.

The Supreme Court magistrates came to the conclusion that the positions being brought forward by those involved in the case could lead the SCJN to establish juridical standards on freedom of expression, information rights, and the rights of individuals to honour and privacy.

The case began in 2005, when the wife of then president Vicente Fox initiated a lawsuit for damages against the weekly "Proceso". The TSJDF absolved "Proceso" of any wrongdoing in January 2007 but ordered Wornat to compensate Sahagún and publish a portion of the sentence against her in a newspaper with national coverage.

Wornat, who is from Argentina, previously told CEPET that she does not trust the Mexican judiciary since she has experienced problems at the Mexico City airport upon entry into the country. On 29 March 2009, she was detained by customs personnel for 45 minutes. Initially, they told her that there was a problem with her passport, but later a customs official informed her that she was being detained because there was a supposed "national alert" connected to her name.

Wornat said, "They treated me like a criminal. During the period of my detention, they took my passport and I don't know what they did with it the whole time."

Following the incident, Wornat asked Federal Public Prosecutor Eduardo Medina Mora to conduct an investigation into the actions of the customs officials. Medina Mora promised to do so but has since failed to contact Wornat. "I have called him several times, but he never takes my calls," Wornat said.

CEPET contacted the Social Communications Division of the National Immigration Institute and was told that they could not provide information on Wornat's case for confidentiality reasons.

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