Six-month prison sentence upheld for Ecuadoran radio journalist accused of libeling a doctor

A court in Ecuador has ratified a six-month prison sentence against a radio broadcaster accused of defaming a doctor two years ago, according to IFEX.

Carlos Ignacio Cedeño was a radio journalist at Sono Onda in the coastal province of Manabí when on Dec, 15, 2009, he accused medical doctor Melitón García of stealing stretchers and microscopes from a public hospital and taking them to a private hospital, according to IFEX.

The lawsuit alleges "harmful and offensive comments" to the doctor's dignity. On Nov. 19, 2010, a court condemned Cedeño to one year in prison for libel, and then after an appeal a second court reduced the journalist's sentence to six months. However, a second appeal was thrown out when the parties could not make it to hearing because there was a problem with flights out of Quito.

Daniel Solórzano, an executive of Sono Onda, said that the journalist's radio program was suspended because of his legal trouble, reported El Universo. Currently Cedeño works at the station Radio Scandalo in the same province of Manabí.

The organization Fundamedios condemned the use of the court system to punish opinions, yet noted that "citizens have the right to sue if they are offended by inaccurate or offensive opinions," and they have the right to "obtain justice if it is proven that the journalist acted maliciously."