The Brazilian Superior Court on Tuesday, March 6, ordered the publishing company Editora Abril to pay roughly $283,000 in damages to the senator and ex-president Fernando Collor de Mello, who claimed he was insulted in an article published by the magazine Veja, reported the news site G1. The publishing company can appeal the ruling.
The article in question was published in March 2006 under the title “The state of the police." In it, journalist André Petry described Collor de Mello — who stepped down as president after a political lawsuit in 1992— as “crazy corrupt.” According to the newspaper Estado de Minas, a court in Río de Janeiro interpreted the article as morally damaging, as the ex-president had already been acquitted of corruption accusations. The case was then taken to the Superior Court which also considered the article as "offensive" and increased the damages from $34,000 to $283,000.
In its defense, Editora Abril argued that the article did not contain "lies" or "acts that call for financial compensation,", and said that Collor de Mello should “be ashamed of being a protagonist of the worst accusation made against a president" in Brazil, added the news site Migalhas. The publishing company also questioned the court in Rio for not standing up for freedom of expression or the legality of spreading information that is of public interest, reported Conjur.
According to the superior court's website, besides the publishing company, also sentenced were André Petry, the author of the article, and Roberto Civita, chairman of the board and editorial director of Editora Abril.