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This is a case in a small country south american country which I have been following. I won´t post links but it should be easy to find information about it by just googling (any link I post would be in spanish anyways). I will try to present facts as unbiasedly as it is possible for me.
In Ecuador, last september 30 of 2010 there was a police revolt. The police reason the police claimed to have revolted for was that the government took away certain monetary benefits they had always received up to that point. The results of the police going on a strike should be obvious, it was a day of complete chaos in the country. Significant amounts of looting and injured.
While this happened the president of the country (Rafael Correa) was taken to a hospital in the capital where he claimed he was held hostage or kidnapped. The hospital obviously had sick people and civilians there. He was esentially barricaded there.
Some time later the order was given to the military to move and get him out of there. A person was shot and killed at the moment. The bullet from the body disappeared thus the culprit was never found.
Some time later one of the government´s ministers said it was correa who ordered the military to move against the hospital and get him out of there.
BY this time the chief editor of "El Universo", one of the more important newspapers in the country, wrote an opinion article about the events. The article was named "No a las mentiras" which translates to "No to lies". I post a link to the articule even though it is in spanish.
Now, in the opinion article the chief editor wrote that the president ordered the military to fire at will during the rescue against the hospital and that the president could be trialed in a future should a future leader see the order to move the military for the rescue against an hospital full of sick people.
Some time after the president sued the newspaper for 80 million dollars and 3 years of prison for the owners and chief editor for supposed injuries. The trial has been controversial and the proccess has been plagued with unusual circusmtances to say the least.
The president sued the newspaper owners claiming they were accomplices of sorts due to them providing the means for the injury to take place. The law in Ecuador does not permit for a non natural person to be sued penally (legal term, not quite sure of how that would translate. I will write it in spanish just in case. "La ley en Ecuador no permite que una persona juridica sea demandada penalmente". I apologize for the lack of accents but my keyboard is not spanish friendly in that regard).
As the trial went on a number of irregularities came to light. The newspaper submitted a 5000 page defense in their case. 33 hours later the judge which was assigned to the case claimed to have finished reading it and published a 130 page veredic where the newspaper and editor were guilty. The newspaper was to pay 30 million dollars and the editor was to pay 10 million dollars to the president. The newspaper is worth just around 35 million dollars meaning that it will take it around 30 years to pay with no pay raises nor profit reinvestment. Basically the newspaper has to close down. The chief editor obviously has nowhere near this amount of money.
Mere months earlier the people of the country had to vote on a number of questions on whether the government was allowed to make certain changes in the country. Among these changes they voted on whether the government could create a communications commision and change the structure of the judicial system. The government seemingly barely won with each of the 10 proposed questions. Incidentally, it was never explained by how much the questions had to win. There were 3 answers which were "yes", "no" and null. It was never specified on whether for the changes to be approved they needed to have over 50% of the voters vote yes or whether they just needed to have more yes than no votes. No and nulls exceeded the yes votes for every question however there were indeed more yes votes than no votes.
Currently the veredict has been appealed and they are going to the second instance and if that does not work they will go to the third instance to appeal. Once that is done with only internation courts remain however while this gets to them there is nothing to stop the government from making the newspaper and involved people go through with the veredict.
Yesterday Rafael Correa criticized Peruvian press which to which they responded by declaring correa as "Persona no grata".
The case has appeared in CNN and a number of other international newschannels.
I realize that perhaps I was not as unbiased as I would have wanted in some cases. Any thoughs?
---------- Post added August 10, 2011 at 10:35 PM ---------- Previous post was July 29, 2011 at 11:12 AM ----------
Wow, thought the idea of a pseudo totalitarian government so obviously attacking perfectly good newspapers would be more interesting lol.
Anyways, fun fact. Anonymous started a series of attacks against the government for what it considers an attack to freedom of speech. So far they hacked the database of the police department and published the names of the police officers and the structure of the police network system. Later on they went on and overloaded a bunch of government servers making at least 4 government web pages useless for the time being. President claims there was not attack although I doubt he knows much about what just happened lol. Almost 11 hours and government pages still not up.