Judge Stevie Gamboa Valladares, the eighth judge named to oversee the Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo's appeal, presented a letter recusing himself from the trial, the website Buró de Análisis Informativo reported on Thursday, Aug. 24.
Gamboa recently replaced Judge Eduardo Guerrero Mortola on Aug. 19, when the previous judge was suspended for 30 days, according to the newspaper El Mercurio. Counting Gamboa, eight judges have been assigned and replaced in the trial against El Universo.
Gamboa was criticized for not having the required seven years of professional experience and for a supposed friendship with the plaintiff's lawyer, Alembert Vera, dating back to their time as students at the Catholic University in Guayaquil, reported El Universo. A photo of the two men apparently hugging was distributed over Twitter shortly after Gamboa's nomination was announced.
It was also announced this week that Emilio Palacio, the El Universo journalist already sentenced to three years in prison and millions of dollars in fines for his criticisms against Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, now faces another slander charge. The government television station Ecuador TV filed the charges, according to Fundamedios.
When Palacio and the editors of the newspaper were sentenced for the editorial "No to Lies" criticizing the president, they held a news conference on Jul. 21 to protest the verdict. During the conference, Palacio asked the Ecuadorian TV reporter Gustavo Espinoza to leave the government-run station, saying, "don't report for those fascists" that are part of the "government's propaganda machine."
For more on this story see the video of Palacio confronting the Ecuador TV reporter.