From the September 1999 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 46, No. 09)


Publishers in the Dock

Robert Taylor, World Press Review contributing editor

The arrest in June of general director Bartolo Ortiz of the Editorial Planeta publishing house and chief editor Carlos Orellana on defamation charges stemming from the attempted publication of the Black Book of Chilean Justice marks a sad chapter in Chile's post-dictatorship democratization. The banned work's author, Alejandra Matus, tells Santiago's centrist La Hora: "The general director and I had spoken in jest about how we could go to jail, but the truth is that we never considered it seriously. We believed that the country, after nine years of democracy, had changed."

The Planeta executives were taken into custody in the ongoing investigation into charges brought by former Supreme Court President Servando Jordan, one of several judges criticized in the Black Book. Provisions in the current security law prohibit defamation of Supreme Court members.

"There are so many people who have committed real crimes who are free in Chile." Matus says. "So the fact that these persons today are detained for helping me exercise the right of freedom of expression seems very sad."

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