Brazilian journalist sentenced to pay $205,000 says he will continue fight for freedom of expression

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  • January 28, 2013

By Brenda Taketa and Rose Silveira *

The text below is a summarized version of an article that appeared on the website Congresso em Foco, on Jan. 25, 2013. Click here to read the full story in Portuguese.

Courts in Pará ruled once again against journalist Lúcio Flávio Pinto, winner of last year's Vladimir Herzog Amnesty and Human Rights Award, among several other accolades for his work in recent years.

This time, Pinto must pay about $205,000 to businessman Romulo Maiorana Júnior and his family's company, Delta Publicidade S/A, which owns one of the largest communication groups in the Northern and Northeastern regions, Organizações Romulo Maiorana.

The decision of magistrate Eliana Abufaiad, who rejected an appeal filed by Pinto during the first half of 2012, was made on Nov. 21, 2012 and published on Jan. 22. The announcement contained a mistake and was republished last Wednesday, Jan. 23. The journalist will try to appeal the decision and take the case to the Supreme Court of Justice (STJ), but fears the sentence will be sustained.

Romulo Maiorana Júnior claims he suffered moral and material damages due to the 2005 publication of the article "The king of the small shop," in which Pinto discussed the origins and the behavior of the businessman at the helm of his company. As a consequence of that article, on Jan. 12 that year, Pinto was physically attacked by the businessman's brother, Ronaldo Maiorana, along with two of his guards, at a restaurant in Belém.

After the attack, the journalist became the target of 15 criminal and civil legal processes opened by the Maiorana brothers. In 2010, he was ordered to pay $15,000 to the brothers, but appealed the decision before judge Francisco das Chagas. The recent decision of magistrate Eliana Abufaiad, if confirmed, will deal a powerful blow to the Pinto's activities, who doesn't have the financial resources to pay for the damages.

* Brenda Taketa and Rose Silveira are journalists in Belém, Pará, and are members of the We Are All Lúcio Flávio Pinto Movement. Click here to read the full version of this story. Read and sign the public request letter that the group will send to the National Justice Council here.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.