Radio firebrand host fined again over insult

31st July 2008, Comments 0 comments

The firebrand radio talk show host has been ordered to pay EUR 100,000 to the former editor of the Abc newspaper for calling him names such as half-wit, idiot and loser.

31 July 2008

MADRID - The loose tongue and hot head of Federico Jiménez Losantos are starting to cost the firebrand radio talk show host dear. A Madrid court this week ordered the primetime presenter on the Catholic Church's Cope radio station to pay EUR 100,000 in compensation to the former editor of the Abc newspaper, José Antonio Zarzalejos, for insulting his honour.

For almost two years, Zarzalejos had been forced to endure repeated verbal abuse over the airwaves, as Losantos branded him an "idiot," "half-wit," "crook," "liar," "traitor" and "loser".

Many of the insults were triggered by Abc's reporting on various controversial police inquiries, including the investigation into the Madrid train bombings on 11 March 2004.

Despite its conservative editorial line, the Abc did not follow the conspiracy theories as printed in El Mundo, which sought to establish a March 11 connection between the Socialists and ETA.

Losantos' comments, the court found, went far beyond "humorous criticism" of a rival member of the media, as the radio presenter claimed, and instead constituted "insults in the strictest meaning of the word".

"Clearly offensive, unnecessary for the information he sought to transmit and uselessly insulting," Judge María Asunción Ramírez said.

She noted that Losantos' comments cannot be protected by his right to freedom of expression.

Zarzalejos welcomed the ruling: "It has been confirmed that this man illegitimately attacked my honour and he must rectify that, not only with the compensation, but also by publicly saying he is a slanderer."

The judge ruled that in addition to paying EUR 100,000 to Zarzalejos, Losantos must also publish the sentence in Spain's three largest newspapers, including Abc, and read it out word-for-word three times on his radio programme.

It is not the first time Losantos has been hauled before a court for uttering lies and insults on his radio show La mañana (The morning).

In 2007, the radio host, the Cope station and Radio Popular were ordered to pay EUR 60,000 in compensation to two Catalan politicians Lluís Carod Rovira and Joan Puigcercós for insulting their honour.

In June, the Cope presenter was ordered to pay damages to Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón to the tune of EUR 36,000 for insults and lies over the mayor's response to the Madrid train bombings.

[El Pais / M. R. Sahuquillo / Expatica]

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