Science lives on in Peru: vindication of Ernesto Bustamante in Peru celebrated with the 2001st blog posting at GMO Pundit

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Source: Wikipedia

Here at GMO Pundit we are taking the opportunity celebrate 2000 blog posts with the fantastic news that a legal victory has been obtained in Peru that is also a victory for those who value their own personal freedom to express scientific criticism.

The scientific method is dead if we do not give full licence for practitioners to offer untrammeled objective criticism to anyone who claims scientific credibility.

Senior respected Peruvian scientist Ernesto Bustamante had been subjected to criminal prosecution for defamation for merely stating that publically made scientific statements about genetically modified maize were spurious.

This defamation action is part of a very disturbing worldwide trend in which the legal process is abused to silence public comment by scientists who speak out about inaccurate statements that are made by activists. General background to the defamation case involving Ernesto Bustamante has been presented in previous GMO Pundit posts:

We are thus extremely pleased announce in the current post the good news about Ernesto Bustamante’s successful legal appeal to the Superior Court of Lima :

The Fifth Criminal Court of the Superior Court of Lima –constituted by three magistrates- has resolved unanimously to revoke and declare NULL the condemnatory sentence that was emitted last April by the Sixth Criminal Court of Lima against Ernesto Bustamante.

The juridical debate was originally set for November 11th, but it did not happen on account of a strike by the workers of the Peruvian Judiciary. A new date was set for December 9th. On that opportunity the attorneys for the defendant and the plaintiff had their chance to present orally their arguments before the Tribunal.

We don’t know yet the detailed text of the Resolution of the Superior Court of Lima, and therefore, we ignore what of the many arguments presented by Ernesto’s Defense were used by the Superior Court as juridical basis to declare null the condemnatory sentence of the lower Court.

But the fact of the matter is that currently the Guilty Verdict and Condemnatory Sentence received by Ernesto last year has been revoked and declared null. Consequently, the Superior Court of Lima has ordered the Sixth Criminal Court of Lima that a new sentence be emitted — this time we expect that the new sentence be an Absolutory Sentence, thus acquitting Ernesto.

We are very happy with this result and continue supporting Ernesto and the freedom of scientific criticism

La Quinta Sala Penal de la Corte Superior de Lima –constituida por tres magistrados- ha resuelto de manera unánime revocar y declarar NULA la sentencia condenatoria emitida en abril del año pasado por el 6° Juzgado Penal de Lima en contra de Ernesto Bustamante.

La citación para que los abogados presenten sus informes orales fue originalmente prevista para el 11 de noviembre, pero no pudo realizarse por la huelga que entonces llevaban a cabo los trabajadores del Poder Judicial. La nueva fecha se fijó para el jueves 9 de diciembre a las 11 am. En esa oportunidad, los abogados de las dos partes sustentaron jurídicamente sus posiciones opuestas ante el Tribunal.

Aún no se conoce el texto detallado de la Resolución de la Sala de la Corte Superior de Lima y por ello no conocemos específicamente en cuáles de los argumentos presentados por la Defensa de Ernesto para sustentar su Apelación se basó la Sala de la Corte Superior de Lima para ordenar se declare nula la sentencia condenatoria.

Pero el hecho concreto es que en este momento la sentencia de culpabilidad que recibió Ernesto ha sido revocada al haber sido declarada nula y por ello la Corte Superior de Lima ha ordenado al 6° Juzgado Penal de Lima que emita una nueva sentencia; esta vez –por los argumentos de la Corte Superior- se espera que la sentencia deba ser absolutoria.

Estamos muy contentos con este resultado y seguimos apoyando a Ernesto y a la causa de la libertad de crítica científica.

Saludos cordials/Best wishes

Professor
Marcel Gutierrez-Correa, Ph.D.
NAS-Peru Fellow

Director
Laboratory of Mycology and Biotechnology
Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina
Av. La Molina s/n, Lima 12

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David Tribe is an applied geneticist, teaching graduate/undergrad courses in food science, food safety, biotechnology and microbiology at the University of Melbourne.