Peruvian archbishop drops criminal complaint against second journalist


April 25, 2019

By Elise Harris

After yesterday’s decision to withdraw his legal complaint against Peruvian journalist Pedro Salinas, Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren Anselmi of Piura has decided to retract a second complaint against journalist Paola Ugaz on grounds that both cases disrupted the unity of the local church.

“Given that the renunciation of my right to defend my honor cannot make distinctions, I inform public opinion that I will proceed to withdraw the complaint for aggravated defamation imposed against Ms. Paola Margot Ugaz Cruz,” read an April 25 statement from the Archdiocese of Piura.

The announcement follows Eguren Anselmi’s decision a day prior to drop the case against Salinas, even though he had already been convicted and sentenced with a suspended jail term and a hefty fine.

Ugaz co-authored the book Half Monks, Half Soldiers, with Salinas in 2015, detailing years of sexual, psychological and physical abuse inside the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV), a controversial Catholic organization that originated in Peru. Its founder, layman Luis Fernando Figari, has been accused of physical, psychological and sexual abuses and was prohibited by the Vatican in 2017 of having further contact with members of the group.

Eguren Anselmi issued a criminal defamation complaint against Ugaz last summer for her role in a documentary series by Al-Jazeera she helped to produce which named Eguren Anselmi as part of a land trafficking scandal in Piura.

She was also charged for her coverage of Salinas’s case and for a series of tweets that she sent ahead of Pope Francis’s January 2018 visit to Peru in which she described Eguren Anselmi’s history with the SCV, saying he knew of the founder’s abuses and did nothing.

Ugaz recently won an appeal to have her case transferred from Piura to Lima, where she lives. Salinas had also sought to move his case to Lima on grounds that the trial would be more objective, but his appeal was rejected.

After announcing the withdrawal of the complaint against Salinas, Eguren Anselmi’s lawyer, Percy Garcia Cavero, told Crux that the sentence Salinas received no longer applies since the legal basis for it has been withdrawn.

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