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IPYS files complaint against judge who sentenced journalist

(IPYS/IFEX) - The following is an abbreviated version of a 26 December 2008 IPYS press release:

IPYS FILES COMPLAINT BEFORE ODICMA AGAINST JUDGE WHO SENTENCED MAGALY MEDINA

On 23 December 2008, IPYS filed a complaint before the District Magistracy Control Office (Oficina Distrital de Control de la Magistratura, ODICMA) against judge Teresa Cabrera, who sentenced journalist Magaly Medina and television producer Ney Guerrero to serve prison terms in a defamation case brought against them by football player Paolo Guerrero. The sentence, which the IPYS complaint characterises as having unjustifiable flaws, was handed down on 16 October.

After a thorough analysis, IPYS' Freedom of Expression Committee came to a unanimous conclusion that if the errors in the sentencing are not corrected and punished it will set a dangerous precedent for freedom of expression in Peru.

The IPYS legal action does not constitute an endorsement of Medina's professional conduct, nor does it refer to the journalist's legal responsibilities with respect to Guerrero's complaint against her. Rather, IPYS's complaint is geared toward preventing the consequences that this sentencing could have for future cases involving press offences since, as is indicated in the complaint to the OCIDMA, it contradicts and ignores criteria established by the Supreme Court for the resolution of conflicts between freedom of expression and offences against the honour of individuals. The IPYS complaint also asserts that there were irregularities in the basis for the sentence passed by judge Cabrera that violate the guarantees established by the Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional).

According to the IPYS complaint, the main flaws in the sentencing include:
- a failure to consider the right to honour of individuals versus the right to freedom of expression in order to determine which of the two rights should prevail in the case
- a failure to identify how due diligence was infringed upon in order to establish responsibilities for the circulation of imprecise information and which individual or individuals bear that responsibility
- a lack of justification because a prison sentence was imposed below that which is prescribed by the law

The Medina case is currently awaiting a second ruling before the Third Criminal Bench for Incarcerated Prisoners.

Lima, 26 December 2008

Updates the Medina and Guerrero case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99267

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