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Of the 55 phrases that the former presidential candidate of the Alliance for Progress (APP) Cesar Acuna Peralta considered offenses in the book “Plata como cancha”, by Christopher Acosta, Judge Raúl Jesús Vega admitted 34, at the time of condemn to the investigative journalist and editor of Penguin Random House, Jerónimo Pimentel, to two years in prison suspended for aggravated defamation.
The head of the Criminal Liquidating Court 30 of the Superior Court of Justice of Lima also imposed the joint payment (including the editorial) of S / 400 thousand in favor of Acuña Peralta, as well as rules of conduct for Acosta and Pimentel, among them not to be absent from their homes without judicial authorization and attend a biometric control every 60 days to report on their activities.
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“What a good president can be a man who beat, insulted and spat on his wife, who has three children out of wedlock and who does not fulfill his responsibilities.” This was one of the phrases in the book “Plata como cancha” that judge Raúl Jesús Vega described as defamatory against the former regional governor of La Libertad.
However, the author of this was not Acosta, but former congresswoman Rosa Núñez.
Núñez, during the process of his divorce with Acuña Peralta, where the distribution of the assets of the marriage was at stake, assured in November 2015, in an extensive interview in the newspaper “Peru 21”, that he suffered physical and psychological abuse from the leader of APP.
Roberto Pereira, lawyer for the author of “Plata como cancha”, indicated that the sentence constitutes a “deadly thrust” against investigative journalism, because “it is demanding an impossible standard to meet, not only here but in the world.” He added that in the next few days they will be formally presenting the appeal.
“What the judge has said is that if one cites a source, and identifies it and does not alter what the source has said, in addition, what you have to do is check the absolute veracity of what that source has stated”, stated in RPP Noticias.
Acosta, in statements to Latina Noticias, said that they had the feeling that the sentence would be negative, but “not with such poor arguments.”
Unknown doctrine of “faithful reporting”
The lawyer Andrés Calderón, director of the Legal Clinic of Informative Freedoms of the Universidad del Pacífico, affirmed that the most remarkable thing about this ruling is that the judge “does not know” the doctrine of “faithful or neutral reporting”, which is recognized by the Court Inter-American Human Rights (I / A Court HR) in the Herrera Ulloa Case in 2004.
“If Acosta cited Acuña’s ex-wife, she cannot be required to corroborate [la denuncia de esta]. What you must prove is that the lady said it and that it has been well contextualized. This is something that the judge has ignored in various parts of the sentence, contravening the standard of faithful reporting, which is mandatory, after the judgment of the Inter-American Court ”, he stated.
Fátima Toche, a lawyer at the Iriarte & Asociados law firm, described the sentence against Acosta and Pimentel as “terrible” and “contrary” to all national and international jurisprudence regarding the media and freedom of expression. What is a reliable source? Who determines that it is? How can a journalist not be able to cite a third party as a source? “, He stressed to this newspaper.
In the plenary agreement of the Supreme Court of Justice No. 3-2006 / CJ-116, which is binding, it is established that for the cases of “neutral reporting, the duty of diligence is satisfied with the verification of the truth of the fact of the declaration, but it does not extend in principle to the need to prove the truth of what has been declared ”.
The Peruvian Press Council and the National Association of Journalists of Peru rejected the sentence against Acosta, Pimentel and the publisher, stating that the judge “has opened a disastrous and historic precedent against freedom of expression” in the country. Both institutions announced that they will request a visit from the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
The Press and Society Institute (IPYS) indicated that it trusts that superior judges “will act to guarantee the freedom of expression violated in the first instance of the process.”
The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) regretted that lawsuits against journalists continue to be used in Peru “as a way to stop the dissemination of critical information of public interest.”
The organization asked Congress to legislate “urgently” the decriminalization of crimes against honor.
Congressmen deplore ruling
Parliamentarians from Fuerza Popular, Avanza País, Together for Peru and the Purple Party deplored the conviction against Christopher Acosta, author of the book “Plata como cancha”, and Jerónimo Pimentel, director of Penguin Random House, of two years in prison suspended for defamation against the leader of APP, César Acuña.
“Condemnation creates bad precedent against freedom of expression and investigative journalism. It is up to the second instance to review the judicial decision, ”tweeted the spokeswoman for the Juntos por el Perú group, Ruth Luque.
Parliamentarian Alejandro Cavero (Avanza País) indicated that freedom of expression is “non-negotiable.” “A shame this ruling,” he added.
Former President of the Republic Francisco Sagasti considered that “a frivolous and senseless complaint” has led to a sentence “which is a gross distortion of justice.”
On the contrary, the Secretary General of Peru Libre, Vladimir Cerrón, said that “freedom of expression has nothing to do here, but rather the corroboration of the statements in question.”
Who is Judge Raúl Vega?
Raúl Rodolfo Jesús Vega, the judge who sentenced Christopher Acosta, is a lawyer from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. In September 2016, he obtained a master’s degree in Criminal Law from the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega University, whose degree was denied by Sunedu years later.
Jesús Vega has been a supernumerary substitute judge of different criminal courts in Lima.
Judge Raúl Jesús Vega held Acosta responsible for statements made by third parties.
“Acuña is a rapist and I affirm it with full knowledge of the facts.”
Miriam Pilco Deza, attorney for Rosa del Carmen Gutiérrez. 2006, newspaper “La Industria”
“What a good president can be a man who beat, insulted and spat on his wife …”.
Rosa Núñez, César Acuña’s ex-wife. November 6, 2015, newspaper “Perú21”
“I want to speak first, that they give me a ministry,” Acuña told Mejía at this meeting. [en el SIN]”
Matilde Pinchi Pinchi, former secretary of Vladimiro Montesinos. Before Congressional Townsend Commission (2001-2006)