Peruvian journalist convicted in criminal defamation case

Alcides Peñaranda Oropeza, editor of the Peruvian daily and magazine Integración, was sentenced on May 21 in the city of Huaraz to a two-year suspended prison sentence and 10,000 soles (US$$3,662) in damages on charges of criminally defaming Cesar Álvarez Aguilar, governor of the northern Ancash region, according to news reports.

The charges stemmed from a report published in Integracíon in February, “The Mysterious Power in Ancash,” that discussed alleged corruption in Álvarez’s government and quoted a report in the Lima-based magazine Hildebrandt en sus Trece that claimed that the governor was being protected from prosecution by a contact at the local attorney general’s office, according to the daily. Álvarez denied all the charges, saying that he and his government were “exemplary.” He filed a complaint against Peñaranda, along with one against journalists César Hildebrandt and Melissa Pérez in conjunction with the earlier article, alleging they had damaged his reputation. Hildebrandt and Pérez were acquitted in April by a judge in Lima who said politicians and public figures were subject to a higher level of scrutiny, the news reports said.

The week before the Ancash case concluded the manager of Integración, Yolanda Quito Camones, was attacked and hit by a group of Álvarez’s supporters at the hearing, according to the local press freedom group IPYS.  Peñaranda is appealing the conviction, IPYS said.