A Costa Rican lawyer has won a criminal case in which he accused two reporters and the newspaper Al Día of damaging his reputation.
The lawyer is Arcelio Hernández Mussio, who was called a fake lawyer in a Sept. 28, 2011, news story. The story was headlined in the Spanish equivalent of “False attorney sought in millionaire fraud.”
Hernández has been a member of the Colegio de Abogados for years, and the headline appears to have been based on incorrect information. Membership information of those in the lawyer’s professional association is available online.
Hernández reported Monday night that the Penal Court of Goicochea convicted reporter Nicolas Aguilar and Edgar Fonseca, the newspaper director, Monday morning.
“They were sentenced to 100 days in prison, exchangeable for 100 days fine (up to 50 percent of their salary), and they were ordered to pay 3 million colons in damages, for moral damage to me, plus the costs of the process,” said Hernández.
Ronald Moya, who wrote a separate news story about the same case for La Nación was not convicted because the court found the article did not contain a direct attack, according to Hernández.
The lawyer did not bring an action against another English-language news site in Jacó that appears to have copied the false information in the Al Día news story. That newspaper printed an apology. Subsequently,
Al Día changed its emphasis to mostly sports.
“I am considering an appeal,” said Hernández in an email, “because the amount awarded for moral damage is not representative of the suffering these people made me go through with their gross disregard for my honor.”