APRIL 28, 2005
Posted: June 15, 2005

Jorge Kajuru, SBT


Brazilian sports commentator Jorge Kajuru was sentenced to 18 months of overnight detention after being convicted on a criminal defamation charge. He remains free while his case is under appeal before the Superior Court of Justice, Brazil’s second highest court.

Kajuru, whose real name is Jorge Reis da Costa, was ordered to stay at a prison dormitory in Goiânia, capital of central Goiás state, every night from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning May 28. He may not leave Goiânia at any time without a judge’s approval. The restrictions interfere with Kajuru’s ability to work; he is based in São Paulo, where he lives and works for the television network SBT.

The criminal defamation lawsuit against Kajuru stemmed from comments he made in January 2001 on the Goiânia-based Rádio K, which he then owned. Kajuru alleged that television station TV Anhanguera, the affiliate of television network Rede Globo in Goiás, had won the rights to broadcast the Goiás state soccer championship because of its close relationship to the state government.

The media group Organizações Jaime Câmara, which owns TV Anhanguera as well as several newspapers and radio stations, and its president, Jaime Câmara Júnior, filed several criminal complaints against Kajuru claiming their honor and reputation had been damaged.

Judge Alvarino Egídio da Silva Primo, of the 12th Criminal District of Goiânia, found Kajuru guilty of criminal defamation in June 2003. Kajuru’s lawyers filed several appeals before the Goiás State Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice—Brazil’s second highest court—but his conviction was upheld. In March, the Goiás State Court of Justice ordered that the sentence be carried out. Terms of the sentence were set at an April 28 court hearing.

Kajuru is known as an outspoken commentator whose views have sparked controversy. He faces many other civil and criminal defamation lawsuits stemming from his comments.

Claiming that the sentence and the court ruling against Kajuru violated his right to a defense and to due process, on May 13 his lawyers filed a petition before the Superior Court of Justice, requesting that execution of his sentence be suspended until the court rules on the petition’s merits.

On May 19, Magistrate Arnaldo Esteves Lima ordered that Kajuru’s sentence be suspended while a five-judge panel of the Superior Court of Justice examines the matter, a process that according to local press reports could take 60 to 90 days.