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Tribunal issues injunction against newspaper

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 7 January 2010, the Civil, Commercial and Transit Superior Court accepted an appeal for protection of constitutional rights (recurso de amparo) that had been filed against the "Mundo Oriental" newspaper. The newspaper was accused of tarnishing the reputation and violating the right to honour of Tarek William Saab, governor of the city of El Tigre, in Anzoátegui state, northeastern Venezuela.

According to the complaint, the newspaper published information alleging that the official was behind a 13 June 2009 shootout that took place in El Tigre's Plaza España, which resulted in the death of the leader of the opposition party Primero Justicia, Jonathan Rivas.

The injunction against the newspaper forbids the "distribution of any article, opinion, comment . . . reckless or slanderous information that seeks to tarnish the governor's name and image."

Nemencio Villalobos, the editor of "Mundo Oriental", said he was unaware of the court decision as the newspaper had not been notified. He also noted that the newspaper had simply published testimony given by political leaders and the defence attorneys for the individuals detained in relation with the shooting, using quotation marks and naming the sources. He pointed out that the newspaper has recordings that can corroborate this.

Villalobos said he will wait to receive official documents regarding the injunction, then will proceed with the appropriate legal countermeasures.

In a press release, Saab said he will initiate civil and criminal legal actions against the newspaper, accusing it of extortion and "societal sabotage."

This is the second such legal action initiated by Saab against a local media outlet. The first took place in 2005, when a similar injunction was issued against now defunct "El Nuevo Día" newspaper, after it published information about the alleged embezzlement of public funds to pay for officials' lunches.

IPYS condemns the actions against "Mundo Oriental", considering them to amount to censorship of the media outlet.

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