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Editor, two journalists and a cartoonist convicted of criminal defamation

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 18 September 2007, Judge Haydee Monzón, of the First Criminal Transitory Court of Lima, convicted the editor of the newspaper "La República", Gustavo Mohme Seminario, as well as cartoonist Carlos Tovar Samanez ("Carlín") and journalists Ángel Páez and Edmundo Cruz, of aggravated defamation. The ruling imposes a two-year suspended prison sentence and the payment of 50,000 soles (US$ 16,000) in civil damages to the plaintiff, Gladys Barboza Peña, a career official in the Department of the Interior.

The crime attributed to Mohme by the judge is based exclusively on his position as editor, the journalists' as authors of the articles, and the cartoonist's according also to his profession. The ruling does not include an analysis of the content of the news pieces at issue, but accuses the newspaper of having used the official's image without consulting her when it published her photograph, and of insulting her through the publication of cartoons.

The information contained in the relevant articles published by "La República" was based on public and private sources and was verified as accurate by the plaintiff. The articles call into question the probity of her public activities in the Department of the Interior, and led to her reassignment to a different position.

IPYS is especially concerned by the way in which Judge Monzón implicated the newspaper's editor, appealing only to the fact of his position, violating the absolute prohibition of connvicting a person without proving his participation in criminal events, as established by the Criminal Code currently in force.

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