Local April 17, 2013 | 11:29 am

Dominican court rulings deal harsh blow to land fraud, boost press freedom

Santo Domingo.- The Supreme Court on Wednesday handed down two rulings on major cases; one which favors freedom of expression, while the other sets a precedent in the country’s fight against rampant land fraud.

The high court ruled against former president Hipolito Mejia’s slander charges against ruling PLD party senator Wilton Guerrero and El Caribe newspaper editor-in-chief Osvaldo Santana.

It called Mejia’s complaint based on the Freedom of Expression Law, “unreasonable persecution of media editors and publishers” who publish opinion by third parties.

It also ruled to acquit Guerrero because an accomplice cannot be penalized when the alleged author of a crime is excluded from the process.

The ruling also orders Mejía to pay the court costs.

Bahia de las Aguilas

The Supreme Court’s 2nd Criminal Chamber on Wednesday overturned an appellate court’s ruling that halted the criminal prosecution against the former Dominican Agrarian Institute (IAD) director Jaime Rodriguez Guzman, a brother and his wife, charged with defrauding the State out of hundreds of hectares of beachfront at Bahia de las Aguilas (southwest).

Justices Mirian German, Alejandro Moscoso, Frank Soto and Juan H. Reyes ruled for the appeal filed by National District prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso and Laura Acosta Lora, special prosecutor assigned to case by president Danilo Medina.

The appeal had challenged the October 8, 2012, ruling by the National District Tribunal’s 2nd Penal Chamber, ordering a halt to the criminal prosecution against Rodriguez, his wife Margarita Reyna Martinez and his brother Rafael Rodriguez Guzman.

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