Hazeltine faces another appeal in his acquittal for defamation

Three businessmen are appealing the acquittal of expat Sheldon Haseltine in their  private defamation case.

This is the case that the business trio filed after Haseltine took to YouTube to discussed his 17-year fight to keep property that had been invaded by squatters in the central Pacific. The businessmen have purchased the possession rights of the squatter.

The businessmen are Armando González Fonseca, Ricardo Jiménez Monealegre and Faud Farash Abdalá. The case is being appealed by Erick Ramos Fallas. The lawyer noted that Otto Giovanni Ceciliano Mora, who was the fourth accuser, has dropped out.

This is the second time that the case has been appealed. The first appeal was by Haseltine and his lawyer after a penal court found him guilty. An appeals panel reversed that decision and sent the case back for a section trial.

Last April 8, a trial court acquitted Hazeltine. This is the verdict being appeals by Ramos.

The decision mainly was on technical grounds involving when the video actually was made. Ramos characterized the video as defamatory in his appeal. However, Hazeltine for the most part simply restated information that already had been published in Spanish-language newspapers.

The accusers also are irked by the use of the word ripoff in the video. “Can you imagine that the law intended to help poor, poor peasants is being used by rich millionaires to rip off landowners,” Haseltine says at the start of his seven-minute, 14-second video.

The accusers have claimed that the word amounts to an allegation of fraud. The second trial court correctly noted that the word is far broader in English and does not always imply a crime.

The criminal defamation case in Costa Rica does not require a finding of damages. The question is if the honor of the three men have been impugned.

Hazeltine said he was happy at the acquittal because then the case involving the ownership of his property can be advanced. Criminal cases freeze civil ones in Costa Rica.

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