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Journalist sentenced to prison for accusation he did not make

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 6 July 2011, journalist Hans Francisco Andrade Chávez, former presenter of local news program "América Noticias" broadcast on América TV's subsidiary in Chepén, was sentenced to two years in prison for alleged aggravated slander, in a controversial ruling issued by Judge María Elizabeth Zulueta Cabrera. This took place in La Libertad, a region in northern Peru.

The ruling also called for the payment of 4,000 nuevos soles (approx. US$1,460) in damages and a fine equal to 120 days of pay. The case concerned statements attributed to Andrade by Juan Vásquez Romero, a public servant who works for the municipality of Chepén, when they were really made by the coordinator of a political party, Carla Rodríguez Ortiz. Rodríguez had been interviewed by the journalist and accused Vásquez of threatening to kill her.

Instead of suing Rodríguez, who made the same declarations to other media outlets, the civil servant sued Andrade and, by sending a complaint to América TV in Lima, got the news program cancelled on 16 March.

In May, Andrade told IPYS he feared he would be found guilty because of the influential position of the mayor of Chepén, Wilfredo Quesquén Terrones and members of the APRA party.

The journalist told IPYS that he plans to file an appeal with the Supreme Court of La Libertad, which will refer his case to one of three criminal tribunals. He has said that even though he trusts the case will be resolved fairly and he will be released, he also knows that an APRA-affiliated judge is in charge of the first tribunal and this could work against him.

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