ETLJB 16 March 201 - The two East Timorese journalists who were charged under country's penal code for slanderous denunciation (defamation) of a public prosecutor have been found not guilty of the charges but have each fined US150 by the Dili District Court on Thursday, 14 March 2013 as civil compensation for the public prosecutor in question.
The journalists had faced up to three years in jail after the publications they worked for (Independente and Suara Timor Lorosae) published reports in December 2011 and January 2012 about a traffic accident case in the District of Oecusse that alleged that the public prosecutor dealing with the case had accepted a bribe in the course of his duties relating to the investigation and prosecution of the driver of the motor vehicle which left dead after a collision.
The judge said prosecutors failed to prove that the news published by
two journalists had harmed the prosecutor materially. "Oscar Maria Salsinha and Raimundos Oki are sentenced to pay a fine of $
150 each," said the judge, in a room full of Timorese journalists who
stood and applauded the judge's decision regarding their colleagues who
avoided a prison sentence. In the same judgment, the individual who passed the information about
the alleged bribe received by the prosecutor, the news source for
journalists, was sentenced to a suspended sentence of one year and
ordered to pay a fine of $150.
"I am pleased with the court's decision. But I'm sad because of
compensation because we were just reporting the news," said Lusa
Raimundos Oki, a journalist from the Independente newspaper.
Oscar Maria Salsinha, from the Suara Timor Lorosae just said he was
"happy" with the judge's decision. The representative of the Association
of Journalists of Timor-Leste, Tito Filipe, said the judge's decision
was fair and asked the parliament and the Timorese judicial system to
"eliminate slanderous denunciation from the criminal code as it applies
According to the East Timorese Penal Code, the crime of "slanderous
denunciation" is applied to "those who, by any means, before an
authority or public, aware of the falsity of the imputation, cast upon a
particular person suspicion of a crime, with the intention that he/she
be prosecuted. "
The code also states that if the person was not "aware of the falsity of
the accusation" then the aggrieved can seek compensation under civil
The prosecution said it would appeal the decision. Sources: LUSA, JSMP Press Release 15/03/2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright
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Penal Code provisions on defamation threaten democracy in Timor-Leste 2009 ETLJ 4 Defamation - a Crime or Not in Timor-Leste? A Legal Analysis on the East Timor Law Journal
Lao Hamutuk Statement on the Defamation Case against East Timor's Media
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Short Analysis of UNTAET Executive Order No 2 of 2002 on the Decriminalisation of Defamation
UNTAET Executive Order decriminalising defamation
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