Thanks to the International Press Institute for this update:
VIENNA, Oct. 2, 2012 – One step forward, two big steps backward in the fight against criminal defamation in Latin America: while a judge in Paraguay acquitted a journalist on defamation charges on Friday, reporters in the Dominican Republic and Cuba continued to face prison terms for libel.
In Asunción, ABC Color columnist Alberto Candia had been the target of a defamation complaint filed by Delgado Von Leppel, the one-time lawyer of former Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner. In a column published last November, Candia had callen Von Leppel an “accomplice, accessory, and tenacious supporter of the barbarities committed by the Stroessner government,” news reports said.
On Friday, Judge Héctor Capurro determined that the libel charges against Candia, which could have resulted in a fine, were unproven. Prior to the ruling, Candia said Von Leppel’s efforts amounted to a “stupid complaint that seeks to instill fear in journalists who work and report under the protection of the National Constitution, which protects freedom of expression and of the press.”
Much different was the scene in the Dominican Republic, where a judge gave journalist Melton Pineda 10 days to appeal his criminal defamation conviction. Should an appeal fail to be lodged within that term, Pineda will be ordered to fulfill the three-month prison sentence handed down on Sept. 13.