Newspaper director convicted on defamation, slander charges

APRIL 11, 2006
Posted: May, 05

Ada Mireya Zurita, El Siglo


A judge decision convicted Zurita, director of the Maracay-based daily El Siglo, on criminal charges of defamation and slander. Judge Verónica Castro gave Zurita an 18-month suspended sentence and ordered her to pay legal fees to the plaintiff, Terry Rojas, chief of the criminal police in northern Aragua province, The Associated Press reported.

Rojas filed a criminal complaint in September 2003. Zurita told CPJ the complaint was filed after El Siglo published what she described as an anonymous one-page statement in its June 23, 2003, edition. The statement, described in news reports as a paid advertisement, accused Rojas and two other people of being involved in the widely publicized disappearance of illegal drugs from police headquarters.

Rojas denied the accusation. No charges or investigations were ever brought against him, Zurita acknowledged. He remains in office.

The published accusation was not attributed to anyone. Zurita told CPJ the statement was placed by an entity called the Union to Save the Morals of the Criminal Police in the State of Aragua, which was composed of local detectives. She said she would not reveal their names.