From Lima

A scandalous court ruling threatens press freedom in Peru. A judge sentenced journalist Cristopher Acosta to two years in suspended prison and the payment of 400 thousand soles (about $ 100,000) for the publication of a book that brings to light dark stories of former presidential candidate César Acuña, a businessman millionaire who heads a right-wing party with parliamentary representation. The sentence also includes the director of the publishing house that published the book, Jerónimo Pimentel. The judge’s sentence Jesus vega, interpreted as an attempt to intimidate not only Acosta but also journalism as a whole, has produced a general, overwhelming rejection, from the left to the right, and a wide condemnation in the country and internationally. The sentence has been appealed.

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Cristopher Acosta published the book “Silver as a court” (the term “field” refers to abundance), a documented account of the trajectory of a powerful businessman who has tried twice to be president of Peru, at the beginning of 2021, shortly before the presidential elections of that year, in which a Acuña did badly. César Acuña became a millionaire with the business of private university education and entered politics. Party founder Alliance for Progress (APP), has been mayor, governor, congressman and candidate for the presidency.

Acosta’s book recalls complaints against Acuña for plagiarizing his graduation thesis and a book; the use of municipal funds when he was mayor for a welfare distribution in times of electoral campaign; the accusations of having negotiated his support for the Fujimori dictatorship when he was a member of parliament; his ex-wife’s disclosures of hitting her; a lawsuit, later withdrawn, for rape of a teenage girl. In all these cases the author cites sources that are identified, and contextualizes them with other information on these topics. The statements cited in the book have been published some time ago in different media, the journalist has compiled and systematized them for publication.

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Acuña sued Acosta for defamation, holding him responsible for what third parties say and the journalist quotes. An aberrant court ruling has proved him right. Acuña’s lawyer, Enrique Ghersi, which sponsors this cause against press freedom, is a member of the board of the ultra-conservative International Foundation for Freedom headed by the writer Mario Vargas Llosa. Acuña is also part of this foundation.

The sentence consolidates a pattern of people with power who use the justice system to prevent the press from investigating about your past and bring up questionable points. The motivation for this lawsuit is to send a message of punishment to those who dare to undress the lives of these people and generate fear for other journalists and an effect of self-censorship so that they do not investigate and do not publish, ”the lawyer told Página / 12 Roberto Pereira, defender of the journalist Acosta.

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“The criteria to convict Cristopher – indicates Pereira – are incompatible with all national and international standards and jurisprudence on freedom of expression. The doctrine of “faithful reporting” prevents transferring responsibility to the journalist for what a credible source says that is identified, as it is in this case. In this sense, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has already ruled ”.

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