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Volume 15, Number 9
May 8, 2009

opinion

Also in this section:
Editorials: Panama turns to the right; and Resolve Bosco's case quickly
Sirias, The river and understanding
Shelton-Louhi, By what right?
Committee to Protect Journalists, Jean Marcel Chéry's prison sentence
E. Jackson, Hopes, expectations and concerns
Wallis, Kemp was a bleeding-heart conservative
N. Jackson, Condi's torture gaffe
Weisbrot, Hillary acknowledges certain realities
Human Rights Watch, Mexico's military and its impunity for War on Drugs abuses
Bruneau, Canada-Colombia free trade pact is a lose-lose deal
Rosenblum Felson, Aid to Haiti
Friedman, The geopolitics of pandemics
Kambakhsh and Reporters Without Borders, Interview with a jailed Afghan journalist
Nasser, When and where the Pope inspires no hope
Estrada, A family of our own
Leis, The elections black box
Bernal, A constitutional state
Letters to the editor

Panamanian journalist sentenced to two years in prison
by the Committee to Protect Journalists

A Panama City court has sentenced leading Panamanian journalist Jean Marcel Chéry to two years in prison on trespassing charges stemming from a years-long series of complaints filed by a Supreme Court justice. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Justice Winston Spadafora to end his politically motivated harassment.

Judge Ricardo Mazza Moreno of the Second Criminal Circuit of the Third Judicial Circuit in Panama City also fined Chéry, director of the Panama City-based daily El Siglo, $1,000 for trespassing on Spadafora's property. The sentence was imposed on February 4, according to records reviewed by CPJ, but Chéry said he was not notified until April 29.

The journalist told CPJ that he would appeal the decision. He is free pending appeal.

In earlier court proceedings, Chéry said security guards had given him, a photographer, and another reporter permission to enter Spadafora's property to examine the construction of a nearby road. In a March 18, 2001 article published in the Panama City-based daily El Panama America, Chéry claimed that Spadafora, then-minister of government and justice, had used public funds to build the road for personal benefit.

Spadafora has pursued other complaints related to the story. In 2001, Spadafora filed a criminal defamation complaint and a civil insult lawsuit against Chéry and two other journalists, Chéry told CPJ. In 2004, Chéry and colleague Gustavo Aparicio were each sentenced to a year in prison on defamation charges, but outgoing President Mireya Moscoso pardoned them two months later, according to CPJ research. The civil suit against Chéry, Aparicio, and the Panama America publishing company is still pending.

"The prison sentence against Jean Marcel Chéry follows a pattern of judicial harassment," said CPJ Americas Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría. "We believe the appeals court, upon review of the evidence, will overturn the sentence and put an end to the legal persecution of Chéry."


Also in this section:
Editorials: Panama turns to the right; and Resolve Bosco's case quickly
Sirias, The river and understanding
Shelton-Louhi, By what right?
Committee to Protect Journalists, Jean Marcel Chéry's prison sentence
E. Jackson, Hopes, expectations and concerns
Wallis, Kemp was a bleeding-heart conservative
N. Jackson, Condi's torture gaffe
Weisbrot, Hillary acknowledges certain realities
Human Rights Watch, Mexico's military and its impunity for War on Drugs abuses
Bruneau, Canada-Colombia free trade pact is a lose-lose deal
Rosenblum Felson, Aid to Haiti
Friedman, The geopolitics of pandemics
Kambakhsh and Reporters Without Borders, Interview with a jailed Afghan journalist
Nasser, When and where the Pope inspires no hope
Estrada, A family of our own
Leis, The elections black box
Bernal, A constitutional state
Letters to the editor

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