Another Libel Suit Against Press Brought in Kyrgyzstan
Editors and journalists from the Justice for All monthly legal bulletin face charges under criminal defamation laws and, if found guilty, might see their publication closed.
The second major libel case against the Kyrgyz press will be heard on July 29 in Jalalabad city court in southern Kyrgyzstan. Only today, the editor-in-chief of another popular opposition newspaper, De-facto, charged with publishing deliberately false accusations against a city official, appeared in court.
Jan Fischer, Director General of the South Kyrgyz Cement plant in Kyzyl-Kiya, filed a criminal and a civil suit against the Justice for All bulletin, demanding one million som (or nearly 28,000 US dollars) in compensation, closure of the outlet and punishment under criminal defamation laws for the editor-in-chief and a journalist who published an article that alleged possible corruption in hiring practices at the plant.
Although the newspaper did not directly accuse the company's administration of corruption, but was reporting rumours circulating in Kyzyl-Kiya about alleged bribes taken for being hired for some positions at the plant, the head of South Kyrgyz Cement found the article slanderous.
Justice for All Bulletin
Hiring is conducted “with no entrance fee,” Fischer said. “Publishing of deliberately false accusations had only one purpose – to defame my personality in the public's eyes and accuse me of a grave crime.”
However, Abdumomun Mamaraimov, the bulletin's editor-in-chief, emphasized, in an interview with Ferghana.ru, that the article simply discussed the origin of persistent rumours, but did not directly blame anyone. He also said when the article was prepared the company's administration refused to speak to either confirm or deny the rumours.
“We have offered to publish an article with the official position, however, the company's administration refused and decided to go to court. This is their right,” Mamaraimov says. “However, I consider the whole situation as being pressure on the media which, unfortunately, has become routine in our country.”