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President says jailed TV host should be freed

(RSF/IFEX) - On 10 December 2008, President Alan García indicated he thought jailed TV presenter Magaly Medina should be released. He told a group of Medina supporters he thought the two months she has spent in prison were "sufficient" and that he would discuss the matter with justice minister Rosario Fernández.

The host of a celebrity gossip show on privately-owned ATV, Medina has been serving a five-month jail sentence since 16 October for claiming on the air that soccer star Paolo Guerrero was having an extra-marital affair.

The justice minister told privately-owned radio RPP Noticias on 10 December that, while the president has the "constitutional power to pardon any citizen," Medina is not yet in a position to receive a pardon as her sentence has not been finalised. Although Medina was obliged to begin serving the sentence as soon as it was passed, an appeal has been filed by her lawyer, César Nakazaki.

"The president's reaction is a step in the right direction and is therefore welcome, even if belated," Reporters Without Borders said. "We hope his intervention will speed Medina's release, as her sentence is out of all proportion to the charge on which she was convicted, and should normally have been suspended pending the outcome of the appeal."

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