English PEN protests the one-year prison sentence handed down to Nor Oriente editor Alejandro Carrascal Carrasco on 12 January 2010 for alleged “aggravated defamation” of a local official in a case dating back to 2005. There were a number of apparent irregularities in the trial and it is widely believed that Carrascal’s conviction is in retaliation for his criticism of the authorities, in violation of his right to freedom of expression. We are therefore calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
Alejandro Carrascal Carrasco, director and editor of the regional weekly newspaper Nor Oriente, was arrested in Bagua, capital of Utcumbamba province, Amazonas department, on 11 January and held in police custody overnight. He appeared in court the next day where he was given a one-year prison sentence for allegedly defaming a local official in a series of articles alleging corruption in the Utcumbamba technological institute. The case was brought by a former director of the institute in 2005.
Carrascal, who reportedly suffers from high bloody pressure, fainted during the hearing and was taken to hospital. However, the judge completed the sentencing in his absence and the editor was transferred the same day from hospital to the San Humberto prison in Bagua. He has reportedly appealed the sentence.
There were a number of apparent irregularities in the trial. In addition to being sentenced in absentia, Carrascal says he had not received any notification that the court’s decision was due. According to one local press report, the defamation case against him had previously been abandoned by the plaintiff.
Local journalists and Carrascal’s family have condemned his conviction as an act of “revenge” and the prison sentence is widely seen as punishment for his editorial line. Nor Oriente is said to be very critical of the authorities and Carrascal has been outspoken in his defence of the indigenous population and the Amazon region. For example, he publically criticized the government over the security forces’ treatment of indigenous communities protesting against oil and mining projects in Bagua in June 2009 during which dozens of indigenous people were killed, scores were detained and around 200 injured.
This is the second case of a well-known Peruvian journalist being imprisoned for defamation in just over a year. Television presenter Magaly Medina was given a five-month sentence in October 2008 for allegedly defaming a football player. She was released at the end of 2008 after serving half of her sentence.
Please send appeals:
– Protesting the one-year prison sentence handed down to Nor Oriente editor Alejandro Carrascal Carrasco on 12 January 2010 for alleged “aggravated defamation” of a local official in a case dating back to 2005;
– Pointing out that there were a number of apparent irregularities in Carrascal’s trial, including his reportedly not being notified of the final hearing and being sentenced in absentia;
– Expressing concern that Carrascal’s conviction is in retaliation for his critical reporting on the authorities, in violation of his right to freedom of expression;
– Calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
Dr. Alan García Pérez
Presidente de la República del Perú
Jr. de la Unión S/N 1ra.
Cuadra, Cercado de Lima
Fax: 51 1 311 3940
Email messages can be sent to the President by clicking here.
Salutation: Su Excelencia/ Your Excellency
Minister of Justice
Dr. Aurelio Pastor Valdivieso,
Ministro de Justicia
Scipión Llona N° 350, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Fax: 51 1 422 3577
Salutation: Señor Ministro/Dear Minister
Please also send copies of your appeals to you the Peruvian Embassy asking for their comments:
His Excellency Ricardo V. Luna
52 Sloane Street
Fax: 00 44 20 7235 4463
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/perunewspapereditorjailedfordefamation/