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Journalist says she’s innocent of libeling former Colombian president

Colombian journalist Claudia López refused to retract her statements and declared her innocence at her trial for allegedly defaming ex-President Ernesto Samper, El País and Caracol Radio report.

The former leader initiated the case against her for a 2006 article, in which López reported that Samper’s campaign had been financed with drug trafficking funds and that he was involved in a pair of homicides, El Espectador reports. Samper says the insinuations harmed his and his family’s honor, EFE adds.

Samper was the president of Colombia from 1994 to 1998, but his rule was overshadowed by investigations into the so-called “8000 process,” in which members of his administration were convicted of using money from the Cali drug cartel to finance his campaign. López wrote the column in question for El Tiempo newspaper in 2006, when then-President Álvaro Uribe tried to nominate Samper as ambassador to France.

“I will not retract my column, it was a reminder of the 8000 process and the use of illegal campaign funds by former President Samper, which is a publicly-known and discussed fact, and he cannot now use [the courts] to seal the historical record of his career,” López said, quoted by El Tiempo.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Feb. 24, RCN Radio adds.

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.

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