Calling it a “victory for free speech,” journalist Martín Pallares celebrated a judge’s decision Monday that threw out a defamation suit brought against him by former president Rafael Correa. Pinchincha Contraventions Court Judge Fabricio Carrasco ruled that the Correa failed to prove that an April article by Pallares caused harm to his reputation.
Before and after the judge’s ruling, supporters of Correa and Pallares clashed outside the Quito judicial center and police were called to restore order.
“Journalists will continue to express themselves in Ecuador,” said Pallares after the ruling. “The judge’s decision today reaffirms the principles of free expression and tells us that attitudes are finally changing in this country.”
In his article on the 4Pelegatos website, Pallares mocked Correa’s defense of former minister of electricity Alecksey Mosquera who was arrested for receiving a $1 million bribe from Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company.
Pallares called the then-president’s argument “absurd,” comparing it to a burglary in which the intention is to prove that the stolen merchandise was indeed owned by the victim.
In his suit, Correa claimed that Pallares “refers to me with expressions that affect my honor by accusing me of acts that conflict with law and morality, and in doing so on a widely read website, shows clear intent of causing me harm.”
Pallares appeared for the judge’s decision while Correa did not. The ex-president leaves Ecuador for Belgium next week to assume a university teaching position.