6. The petitioner alleges that in early 2003 the Chilean media reported a series of accusations about the illegal cutting of the alerce in the southern part of the country. In particular, one of these accusations referred to alleged unlawful actions by members of the National Forest Corporation (CONAF) and senior government officials involving the illegal exploitation of the alerce. 1 In addition, based on these accusations, on May 12, 2004, a Parliamentary Committee was formed in the Chamber of Deputies in order to investigate the facts. 7. The petitioner maintains that on May 12, 2004, Mr. Carlos Baraona Bray publicly stated that then Senator Sergio Páez Verdugo pressured Tenth Region authorities to allow the unlawful occupation of properties, the unlawful clearing of ownership titles, and the unlawful felling of alerce. These statements were disseminated nationally in the print media and through newscasts on local television and radio channels. 2 8. The petitioner states that in May 2004 Mr. Sergio Páez filed a criminal complaint against the alleged victim for two crimes of defamation (calumnia and injurias) through the media. The petitioner adds that on June 22, 2004, the Puerto Montt Court of Guarantees handed down a decision absolving Mr. Baraona Bray of the crime of calumnia and convicting him of the crime of injurias under Articles 417, 418, and 422 of the Chilean Penal Code as they relate to Article 29 of Law 19.733, the Law on Freedoms of Opinion and Information and the Practice of Journalism. 9. The petitioner states that the conviction imposed a prison term of three hundred days and a fine of 20 monthly tax units (about one thousand, two hundred US dollars), added to the additional punishment of suspension from public positions or duties for the duration of the prison term and payment of court costs. 3 The decision also ordered conditional suspension of the prison term with the accused being subject for a period of one year to administrative control and assistance from the corresponding section of the Chilean Gendarmería.4 10. The petitioner states that the Criminal Public Defender’s Service, representing the alleged victim, filed an appeal before the Supreme Court to have the decision nullified. The Supreme Court denied the appeal in a decision reported on September 9, 2004. The petitioner states that that decision cannot be appealed and domestic remedies have thus been exhausted. 11. The petitioner asserts that the statements made by Mr. Baraona Bray referred to matters of public interest and national importance, in that they relate to the conduct of senior government officials and involve the commission of alleged unlawful acts. The petition states that this issue had been widely discussed in the Chilean press and that the purpose of Mr. Baraona Bray’s statements was to inform public opinion. 12. The petitioner indicates that since this is a matter of public interest, the use of criminal charges to punish the statements made by the alleged victim violates international standards on freedom of expression.5 The petitioner also maintains that in the specific case 1 Petition sent to the IACHR on March 4, 2005, annex containing press clippings. Petition sent to the IACHR on March 4, 2005, page 2 and Decision of the Court of Guarantee of Puerto Montt, Tax ID 0410008047-3, pages 2-5. 3 Decision of the Court of Guarantee of Puerto Montt, Tax ID No. 0410008047-3, page 6. 4 Idem, resolution point number 4. 5 Petition sent to the IACHR on March 4, 2005, pages 5-15. 2 2

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