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MEDIA

Concerns raised over TCT decision

Temas:

Even though workers from the company Transcaribe Trading (TCT) blocked the entrances of the headquarters of La Prensa in August 2012 for several hours, a Court of Appeals has ruled it was not an attack on freedom of the press because the newspaper was published that day.

The court, in a 2-1 decision, affirmed a lower court ruling that five workers were not guilty of restricting the freedom of the press. The majority decision was issued by Fourth Criminal Court Judge Agustín Ortiz and supported by Sixth Criminal Court Judge Luzmila Jaramillo. Fifth Criminal Court Judge Enrique Paniza dissented.

THE FACTS

Late on Aug. 2, the headquarters of Corprensa was blocked by more than 20 TCT trucks. They were trying to prevent the circulation of the newspapers La Prensa and Mi Diario.

On the morning of Aug. 3, TCT workers protested against Corprensa with banners and loudspeakers, although this time did not block the entrances.

The newspapers were able to be circulated because they were passed by hand past the blockade.

President Ricardo Martinelli and National Assembly President Sergio Gálvez also attended the protest.

The protest was held after the newspapers published details of the contracts the company, owned by brothers David and Daniel Ochy, obtained from the Martinelli government that totaled more than $400 million.

On Nov. 19, Attorney General José Ayú Prado formulated charges for the crime of violating the freedom of the press against five workers of TCT.

Municipal Judge Leslie Loaiza dismissed the charges in a decision issued Aug. 27, 2014. That decision was appealed by Corprensa, which led to the most revent ruling.

In the appeal court ruling, Judge Ortiz said that there was no proof that the defendants "intended to prevent the publication or circulation of the newspapers."

"Just because the defendants placed trucks in the vicinity of Corporación La Prensa can not conclude that there was an attempt to curtail press free freedom," the judge said.

Ortiz said the employees had acted "with the conviction of a legitimate right to peaceful protest."

In his dissent, Judge Paniza said the workers "without a doubt tried to block the circulation of La Prensa."

The National Council of Journalism (CNP) issued a statement condemning the decision, saying the freedom of the press is an essential right that must be defended.

The National Council of Journalists also criticized the decision, saying such actions should never be allowed.

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