The climate of press freedom in the country has worsened with numerous libel suits against journalists and news media are being filed. Among the most relevant developments in this period are the following: The editor of ABC Color, Aldo Zuccolillo, on August 5 refused to reconcile with Frenchman Jean Claude Critón in a lawsuit claiming offense to his reputation, initiated as a result of a news item on December 15, 2010 reporting that Critón had been arrested on a warrant in a defamation case and who in addition had a background of fraud and crimes against humanity in Argentina, according to information given by police sources. The judge in the case, Manuel Aguirre, is due to set a date for the oral hearing. ABC Color reporter Sandra López was acquitted on June 30 on a libel charge brought by model and businesswoman Zunilda Castiñeira, who called for a sentence of two and a half years in prison and payment of damages of 6,000 million guaranis ($1.5 million) by López. Judge Aguirre held that there had been no harm to the honor of the claimant, who had allegedly been involved in a case of influence peddling that linked her to the state-owned telecommunications company. She appealed the ruling and the appeals court is due to pronounce shortly. On August 26, Judge Aguirre acquitted three reporters from National Television System (SNT) Canal 9 channel, Silvio Cuevas, Yolanda Park and Andrés Caballero, and former director Ismael Hadid, on a libel charge brought by lawyer Evelio Fabio Salinas. He called for damages of 1,200 million guaranis (some $300,000). The judge ruled that there had been no offense committed in the broadcast in a news program of a complaint filed against the lawyer by María Tomasa Lugo, accusing him of falsification of birth certificates. ABC Color reporter Jorge Torres Romero is due on a date yet to be established to appear before an oral hearing on a libel charge brought by Alfredo Guachiré, former head of the National Emergency Department (SEN), accused of loss of trust during his term in office. The ruling was upheld on May 3 following a hearing before Judge Aguirre in which there was no reconciliation between the parties. Torres Romero had published a series of articles about alleged administrative wrongdoing in 2010 in the SEN, an agency of the Presidency. Torres Romero was also sued for libel by SEN Minister Camilo Ernesto Soares, who is facing charges of loss of trust and adulteration of public documents. The journalist had begun publication of a series of investigations into alleged wrongdoing in the agency headed by Soares, ranging from cases of issuance of falsified invoices to justify grant of allowances, overcharging for purchases of food for emergency use and massive appointment of members of the political party that he belongs to. On July 4, radio station Yuty FM in Caazapá province was attacked by unidentified assailants who burst into the station brandishing guns, overpowered an operator and announcer Cecilia Martínez and tried to set fire to equipment in the studio there. The radio’s owner, former Liberal Congressman Nelson Vera Villar, said that some months earlier Colorado Party (opposition) politician Benjamín Adaro Monzón had declared on another radio that Yuty FM should be got rid of by any means. Criminal Court Judge Digno Arnaldo Fleitas on June 28 ordered journalist Luis Verón of ABC Color to pay 38 million guaranis (some $10,000) in costs of a legal study made by the current Attorney General of Paraguay, José Enrique García, in the framework of a suit brought by architect Luis Fernando Pereira Javaloyes, who claimed to have been libeled in a report in which he was accused of encouraging the destruction of a national heritage at an 18th century Franciscan church. On August 20, Colorado Party Senator Gregorio Areco Ruiz Días threatened to file a lawsuit against those in charge of the Ciudad del Este newspaper Vanguardia and ABC Color. He had received free medical care as a “social patient” at the Area 2 Hospital of the Tesãi Foundation, a dependency of the Itaipú Binational Entity. After taking part in Asunción in the latest edition of the Mercosur Presidential Summit that was held in late June Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa on his return to Quito declared that “the Paraguayan press is worse than the Ecuadorean press,” accusing the newspaper ABC Color of being “terrible” and of “the extreme right.” Six months after the murder of radio reporter Merardo Romero on March 3, the crime remains unsolved, although there is a political motive in this case. Romero worked at radio station La Voz de Itakyry in Itakyry, department of Alto Paraná, and he was active in an internal movement of the Colorado party. His widow, Gloria Torres, indicated a former mayor of the area and partisan leader of a rival movement, Miguel Angel Soria, as the supposed instigator of the crime. Up to the present date, investigations of the murder are stalled.