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Radio journalist convicted in Utcubamba of defamation, fined, given suspended sentence over broadcast on land dispute

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 27 March 2007, journalist José Flores Burgos, director of the public affairs programme "Sin Censura" on La Voz de Bagua Grande radio station, was convicted of defamation for having accused, on his programme, lawyer Roberto Montalvo Cuba of being connected to the usurping of a municipal plot of land for which the title is in dispute. Flores Burgos was given a suspended sentence of two years and fined 4,200 nuevos soles (approx. US$1,300).

The ruling was made by the First Criminal Court of Utcubabma (Primer Juzgado Penal de Utcubamba), in the Amazonas region in Peru's northeast. However, the journalist told IPYS that Judge Celestino Sánchez and his secretary, Lidia Vega, both working in that court, edited and corrected the ruling various times while it was being read out in the courtroom.

Flores Burgos made a formal complaint to the Higher Court of Amazonas (Corte Superior de Amazonas) about the impropriety allegedly committed by the judge and his secretary. He also appealed the sentence itself before the Decentralised Court of the Judiciary (Sala Descentralizada del Poder Judicial) in Utcubamba.

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