Brazilian judge sentences newspaper to pay damages to ex-government official

The newspaper O Estado de Mato Grosso do Sul was ordered by the Brazilian state's court to pay damages to Luiz Carlos Bonelli, ex-superintendent of the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform, reported the news site MS Notícias.

Judge Luiz Tadeu Barboda Silva said the newspaper "offended Bonelli's honor" when it published an article on corruption scandals at the Institute, reported Douranews. The ex-superintendent was eventually removed from office, the newspaper Folha de Dourados wrote. O Estado de Mato Grosso defended its report, saying that the article was based on investigations by the Federal Public Ministry.

Damages were originally filed for $17,600, but after an appeal from the newspaper the amount was reduced to $8,800, said the public relations official for the court.

"Freedom of information and expression are not absolute rights and should be limited when they affront the right to protect one's honor and public image, and when they offend the person's dignity," read the court ruling. Click here to read the ruling in its original Portuguese.