Ecuador Defamation Case In Final Hearing

Published February 15, 2012 5:45PM (EST)

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador's highest court is hearing the final appeal in a defamation ruling favoring President Rafael Correa that ordered three-year prison terms for three executives and a columnist of the opposition newspaper El Universo. The ruling also set a total of $42 million in damages.

Correa's backers have scuffled with his foes outside the courthouse. Correa's supporters struck at least three journalists and burned issues of El Universo and another newspaper, El Comercio.

Correa is attending Wednesday's hearing. It is not yet clear when the three judges will rule.

Rights groups have decried Correa's criminal libel case against El Universo as an attempt to stifle free speech.

Correa says he is only defending himself against false accusations.

By Salon Staff

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