Price of Freedom: Comment in Blog Brings US$ 9,000 Fine in Brazil Court

EmÀ­lio Moreno Brazilian blogger and journalism student EmÀ­lio Moreno da Silva Neto, 33, was ordered by a Ceará state judge to pay 16,000 Brazilian reais (US$ 9,300) in damages due to a comment posted on his blog called Liberdade Digital (Digital Freedom).

On November 21, 2009, Neto, who resides in Fortaleza, received notice that property would be seized to cover the sum, which, with indexation, amounts to almost 20,700 reais (US$ 12,000). Neto, however, has said, "I have no property, I am a journalism student and live with my parents."

The case began in March, when the student posted a comment on his blog about the lack of coverage the local media gave to a fight between two students at the Colégio Santa Cecí­lia, a traditional private school in Fortaleza.

An anonymous reader then posted a comment on the blog insulting the director of the school, the nun Eulália Maria Wanderley de Lima, and criticizing her performance in dealing with the conflict between the students. This led the nun to initiate a lawsuit for "moral damages" against the blogger.

A decision in the case was delayed since Lima did not attend the first four hearings and always justified her absence. At the fifth hearing, the nun was present, but Neto was absent and failed to present his arguments.

"I got confused with the dates," the student explained.

According to the news website G1, Neto has also missed the deadline for appealing the decision. The student has changed lawyers and now plans to try to have the court's decision annulled or change the amount of the damages awarded.

Caught in Gunfire

On November 27, 2009, Pamela Martin, a reporter for RBS TV, was shot in the leg while she was working on a report about illegal fishing in Bocaí­na do Sul, in the state of Santa Catarina, southern Brazil.

At the time of the incident, Martin and her camera operator were in a boat along with three police officers.
 
According to information released by RBS, the shots were fired at the boat with the aim of hitting both the police and the journalists. The police shot back.

After the shootout, the reporter and a police officer who was also wounded were admitted to a hospital. The police are investigating the case.

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