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Judge dismisses lawsuit against journalist

(Globe International/IFEX) - On 23 August 2011, judge Ch. Khosbayar of the Sukhbaatar District Court dismissed the charges in a criminal lawsuit against journalist Bolormaa Damdinsuren of "Zuunii Medee" (Century News) newspaper.

Bolormaa published an article in the paper's #267 issue, on 8 November 2010, headlined "The director of the 'Mon Uran' Company B. Narankhuu is under investigation by the police for sexually abusing teenage girls."

After the article was published, Narankhuu filed criminal charges against the journalist accusing her of publicly defaming his business and individual reputation.

Narankhuu did not attend the trial himself, but sent a representative on his behalf. The state prosecutor revealed that another individual named G. Narankhuu had been involved in the criminal activities and found the journalist guilty of slander. The prosecutor demanded a four-month sentence. However, the judge noted the journalist did not purposefully defame the company director and therefore the case could no longer be considered a criminal lawsuit.

Representatives of Globe International and the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia participated as observers. Attorney Mr. Ts. Mongol defended the journalist and Mr. B. Erdenesolongo, deputy editor-in-chief of "Zuunii Medee", attended as a witness.

Globe International welcomes the court's decision.


BACKGROUND:

Since August 2010, "Zuunii Medee" has published a series of more than 20 articles on human trafficking and sexual violations of teenage Mongolian girls. The newspaper's investigative office, where Bolormaa works, claimed that an organized criminal group has been engaged in the trade of virgin teenage girls at a rate of US$500 per girl. The newspaper and Bolormaa had also claimed to have verified with confidential sources, including a witness and a victim, that privileged and affluent persons have been involved in the criminal group. Bolormaa had based the information contained in her 8 November 2010 article on these sources.

The businessman filed criminal charges against the journalist and a civil defamation case against the paper, demanding compensation of 3 billion MNT (approx. US$2,400,000). In April 2011, the Sukhbaatar District Court dismissed the civil lawsuit against the newspaper.

Globe International protested the use of criminal defamation charges against the journalist and held a press conference in December 2010 to bring attention to the case.

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