If there ever was a slam-dunk defamation case, it would be the one that two Caribbean coast expats could file against the Municipalidad de Talamanca, its mayor, its council president and dozens of locals who signed a statement against them.
Even the Sala IV constitutional court thinks so.
The court decided Friday that the municipality does not have the power to declare the two expats personas non gratas.
This was the anticipated verdict when the lawyer for the pair filed a constitutional court appeal.
A summary of the verdict was released Tuesday.
Earlier this month the Sala IV issued a preliminary ruling that froze an effort by the Municipalidad de Talamanca to hold a hearing and demand the presence of expat residents Carol Meeds and Philippe Vangoidsenhoven.
The municipality had been rebuffed once before. Last March 6 the council declared the pair to be unwelcome in the canton. The Sala IV constitutional court quickly reversed that municipal action and said in passing that the two had not been give the right of response.
The hearing was supposed to give the expats the right of response.
As the Sala IV noted, the two irritate the municipal establishment by filing environmental complaints.
The court said that the proposed declaration constitutes an intimidating way that directly menaces the exercise of fundamental rights of liberty of expression and to watch out for the environment.
The court also said that the law does not give the municipality any power to emit such a declaration, a sanction contrary to legal principles that also affects the good name of the the expats.
The council president is Carlos Cascante, and the mayor is Melvin Cordero.
Six high court magistrates agreed with the ruling. Ernesto Jinesta Lobo did not.
The two expats were represented by José María Villalta, the former presidential candidate.