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Constitutional court rules against "El Comercio" newspaper

(IPYS/IFEX) - 10 November 2011 - In a ruling published on its website on 24 October 2011, the Constitutional Tribunal ordered the newspaper "El Comercio" and its director to republish a correction submitted by former congressman Jorge Mufarech on 6 December 2006, or face fines ( ).

The case goes back to 24 November 2006, when the newspaper published a news story on page A9 titled "Purchase of the Jaguar: Sixth Penal Division Court rules against former congressman Jorge Mufarech". The article reported that the court in question had upheld a ruling by the Thirtieth Penal Court of Lima, which ruled that the statute of limitations had expired on charges brought against the former director of customs, Carmen Higaona, and others, for crimes committed against Mufarech.

On 6 December 2006, Mufarech sent "El Comercio" a notarized letter, to which the Constitutional Tribunal makes reference, requesting that a correction be published. Mufarech argued that the paper had incorrectly reported that the Penal Court had ruled against him, when in fact he was the aggrieved party in that penal process.

On 20 January 2007, "El Comercio" published the letter in question in its section "Tell us what you think", under the category "Opinion", adding the following comment that includes an excerpt from the Sixth Penal Division's ruling:

"Nevertheless, regarding the payment of import duties for the Jaguar car, the court has pointed out that "there is enough evidence that the value declared by the importer Powell S.A. (a company that is owned by the Mufarech family) did not correspond to the usual market price, so that the FOB value should be adjusted and incriminatory charges formulated, for unpaid duties amounting to US$12,798.80".

Mufarech claimed that by publishing this excerpt from the ruling together with his letter, "El Comercio" had not respected his right of reply. A majority of the members of the Constitutional Tribunal (magistrates Mesía Ramírez, CalleHayen, Eto Cruz and Urviola Hani) agreed with Mufarech's claim.

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