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Journalist imprisoned after criticising district attorney

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 19 April 2011, Paul Garay Ramírez, director of the Visión 47 TV programme "Polémica" and a correspondent for the radio station La Exitosa, was sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly defaming District Attorney Agustín López Cruz. López is based in Coronel Portillo, Ucayali region, in central-eastern Peru.

The journalist was imprisoned in the city's jail after a controversial ruling was issued by Substitute Judge Alcibiades Morote Mescua. Judge Morote and DA López had been criticized by Garay for, among other things, shelving two serious cases of corruption.

In his complaint filed in January 2011, the DA accused Garay of having insulted him, towards the end of 2009, during a programme broadcast on La Exitosa. López presented a short audio recording, without a transcript, as evidence. The journalist denied that it was his voice on his recording and provided documentation proving that in 2009 he was working for a different radio station.

In late January 2011, Judge Morote summoned Garay for the reading of the sentence, but this never took place. The defendant requested that the court first address a complaint and a challenge that had previously been filed, because he could discern clear irregularities in the process.

A few days before his sentencing, Garay warned several organisations, including IPYS, that the magistrates were looking for revenge.

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