in any phase of the processing of the petition inasmuch as he had served as the petitioners’
sponsor when the petition was first filed.
8. On January 13, 2003, the State sent its response to the complaint lodged by the petitioners. On
March 21, 2003, the Commission received the petitioners’ observations on the State’s response.
On July 8, 2004, the State sent the Commission a communication restating the position it had
taken in its earlier observations and requesting that the petition be declared inadmissible in all its
parts.
III.

THE POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

A.

The petitioners

9. The petitioners state that issues 983, 984 and 985 of the magazine Noticias (dating from
October and November 1995) carried reports to the effect that then-President Carlos Saúl Menem
and Ms. Martha Meza had had a child out of wedlock in 1981, a child born of a relationship the two
had while he was incarcerated in the province of Formosa. According to the petitioners, the
magazine also reported details about the source of Ms. Martha Meza’s assets and about her
personal relationship with Mr. Menem. 1
10. The petitioners contend that as a result of these articles, Mr. Menem filed a civil action against
Editorial Perfil S.A (the publisher of Noticias), Jorge Fontevecchia (director of Noticias) and Héctor
D’Amico (editor in charge of Noticias), seeking damages in the amount of $ 1,500,000 (one
million five hundred thousand pesos) as compensation for moral damages caused by what Mr.
Menem called “arbitrary interference in his family and private life.” The petitioners state that Mr.
Héctor D’Amico then countersued Mr. Menem for the sum of $10,000 (ten thousand pesos), as
compensation for moral damages caused by the statements Mr. Menem had made regarding issue
number 984 of Noticias. 2
11. On July 10, 1997, the National Civil Court of First Instance delivered a ruling throwing out the
suit and the countersuit. That ruling was appealed. On March 17, 1997, the judges in Chamber H
of the Civil Court of Appeals of the Federal Capital decided to modify the ruling and ordered
Editorial Perfil S.A. and Messrs. Jorge Fontevecchia and Héctor D’Amico to pay $ 150,000 (one
hundred fifty thousand pesos) as compensation “for [violation of the] right to privacy” and
“inasmuch as none of the factors that would justify the invasion of privacy, especially the
prevailing public interest or the consent of the interested party, was present.” The petitioners filed
an extraordinary appeal with the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the Court of Appeals.
On September 25, 2001, the Supreme Court decided to uphold the bulk of Appellate Court ruling;
it did, however, reduce the damages award to $ 60,000 (sixty thousand pesos).
12. The petitioners contend that Noticias made these facts public “in exercise of its right and its
duty [to] inform its readers of an unusual circumstance involving a public figure.” They argue that
in Formosa province, it was public knowledge that Mr. Menem was the father of Ms. Martha Meza’s
child and that the facts that prompted the article were very newsworthy at the time they were
disclosed. 3 They also argue that another factor to consider is that the veracity of the information
reported had never been challenged.
1 Specifically, the petitioners assert that those issues of the magazine had reported that: (a) the child was received at the Olivos
presidential residence and at the presidential retreat at Chapadmalal; (b) Ms. Meza had apparently received resources from Mr.
Menem; specifically, that she had gone from living on a teacher’s salary in 1984 to having assets valued at close to one million
dollars ten years later; she had also been elected a national deputy; (c) Ms. Meza was threatened; (d) the relationship and the
child’s existence were a cause of conflict with Mrs. Zulema Yoma, who was at the time Mr. Menem’s wife; and (e) posters were
mounted in the city of Formosa concerning Mr. Menem’s alleged failure to pay his supposed son’s child support.
2 The petitioners point out that Mr. Menem had called Noticias magazine “a real sewer that is a cover for a criminal organization”
engaging in “dirty” journalism.
3 The petitioners point out that Ms. Meza had made a television appearance in which she stated that her son’s life was in danger,
precisely because it was public knowledge that he was Mr. Menem’s son.

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