President Alan García indicated yesterday he thought jailed TV presenter Magaly Medina should be released. He told a group of Medina supporters he thought the two months she has spent in prison were “sufficient” and that he would discuss the matter with justice minister Rosario Fernández.
The host of a celebrity gossip show on privately-owned ATV, Medina has been serving a five-month jail sentence since 16 October for claiming on the air that soccer star Paolo Guerrero was having an extra-marital affair.
The justice minister told privately-owned radio RPP Noticias yesterday that, while the president has the “constitutional power to pardon any citizen,” Medina is not yet in a position to receive a pardon as her sentence is not yet final. Although Medina was obliged to begin serving the sentence as soon as it was passed, an appeal has been filed by her lawyer, César Nakazaki.
“The president’s reaction is step in the right direction and is therefore welcome, even if belated,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We hope his intervention will speed Medina’s release, as her sentence is out of all proportion to the charge on which she was convicted, and should normally have been suspended pending the outcome of the appeal.”
17.10.08 - Court’s decision to jail TV host for defamation called “dangerous and inappropriate”
Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s imprisonment of Magaly Medina, the host of a celebrity gossip show on privately-owned national television station ATV, after she was sentenced by a Lima criminal court to five months in prison for defaming Peruvian soccer star Paolo Guerrero. The organisation regards the sentence as totally inappropriate and calls for the decriminalization of press offences.
“It is not our job to say whether we think Guerrero was defamed, although this seems to have been so,” Reporters Without Borders said. “But we think it is very dangerous that a prison sentence was passed in this case, especially as it is extremely rare in a country such as Peru, and that it was implemented although Medina filed an appeal, which normally suspends execution of the sentence.”
The press freedom organisation added: “Imprisonment in a defamation case not only fails to redress the damage but can also end up harming the plaintiff’s reputation. This dangerous and inappropriate prison sentence runs counter to the tendency in countries that belong to the Organisation of American States to decriminalize press offences. We hope Peru will amend its legislation accordingly and that Medina will be quickly released.”
Medina was escorted handcuffed from the Lima lawcourt building at around 7 p.m. yesterday, after receiving the five-month jail sentence, and was taken in a prison truck to Chorrillos women’s prison. Ney Guerrero Orellana, the producer of Medina’s show, “Magaly TeVe,” was also incarcerated after getting a three-month sentence in the same case. He and Medina were ordered to pay Guerrero 80,000 soles (19,000 euros) in damages.
The popular and controversial Medina claimed in her show that Guerrero, a striker with the German team Hamburg, surreptitiously skipped a Peruvian national side training session on the eve of a match against Brazil in November 2007 in order to have a date with a young woman. The court ruled in Guerrero’s favour after he proved that did go out that day but had Peru coach José del Solar’s permission.