On Wednesday, April 2, the appeals court ruled that “even though the expressions voiced by Yáñez can be qualified as excessive, vulgar, or ignorant, they do not constitute the crime of disrespect.”
The sentence stemmed from a November 2001 episode on Chilevisión’s debate show “El Termómetro,” during which Yáñez described the Chilean judiciary as “immoral, cowardly, and corrupt” for not providing compensation to a woman who had been imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. The Chilean Supreme Court then filed a criminal complaint against Yáñez.
Yáñez told CPJ that Wednesday’s ruling is a “step forward in terms of freedom of expression” in Chile but added, “Congress must eliminate the crime of disrespect” from the books. In September 2002, the government of President Ricardo Lagos introduced a bill to amend several articles of the Penal Code and the Code of Military Justice that impose criminal penalties for insulting the honor or dignity of public officials.