MAY 4, 2005
Updated December 12, 2005
Sally Bowen, freelance
LEGAL ACTION, HARASSED
In May 2005, Judge Alfredo Catacora Acevedo found British freelance journalist Sally Bowen guilty of criminal defamation and ordered her and her publisher to pay $10,000 Peruvian soles (US$3,000) to businessman Fernando Zevallos. Catacora also sentenced Bowen to one year of probation and restricted her movements both within and outside of the country.
In June, after finding numerous irregularities in Catacora’s handling of the trial, an appellate court overturned Bowen’s conviction and ordered a retrial before a new judge.
In his criminal complaint, Zevallos said that Bowen, who is based in the capital, Lima, where she has lived for the last 16 years, and co-author Jane Holligan had irreparably harmed his image in their book, “The Imperfect Spy: The Many Lives of Vladimiro Montesinos.” Proceedings were pending against Holligan, who lives in Scotland.
Zevallos’ lawsuit revolved around a single sentence in the 493-page book, which details the activities of now-imprisoned former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos. The book quotes an imprisoned U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration informant as saying Zevallos was a drug trafficker with close ties to Montesinos.
Catacora, in reaching his now-defunct verdict, said Zevallos had never been convicted of a crime. Zevallos, founder of the former AeroContinente airline, has denied drug trafficking allegations, although official accusations have dogged him for years. Drug trafficking charges against him were pending in Peru in late 2005; the U.S. government has labeled him a “significant foreign narcotics trafficker” and barred U.S. businesses and individuals from doing business with him.