New judicial victory, and it seems definitive, of the publishing house Libros del KO and the writer and journalist of EL PAÍS Nacho Carretero against José Alfredo Bea Gondar, former mayor of O Grove (Pontevedra), for the references to him in the book Farina, which deals with the history of drug trafficking in Galicia. The Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal that the ex-regidor, of the PP, had raised after the ruling of the Provincial Court of Madrid in July 2018, which already overthrew Bea Gondar’s claim for compensation of 500,000 euros for violation of his right to honor. The ruling of the Supreme, of January 20, known this Wednesday, confirms the previous sentence and orders the payment of court costs to the appellant.
This case has addressed “a conflict between freedom of information and the right to honor,” as stated in the judgment, to which EL PAÍS has had access, which adds that in this dispute, the former “prevails”. The Supreme Court considers relevant in this litigation that “the book fundamentally communicates facts susceptible of contrast and would therefore be an expression of the right and freedom of information.” The Chamber, in the reasoning of its judgment, adds that “there is no controversy regarding the general interest of the matter on which the information contained in the book relates Farina, in which the plaintiff is specifically mentioned, as it was framed in a story about the history of Galician drug trafficking, with serious social consequences and on which there has been a vast police investigation and abundant criminal proceedings “.
Carretero, after hearing the sentence, declared: “I had no doubt that the Supreme Court was going to dismiss the appeal. They have given us the reason in the most important thing, that what I affirm in the book is true. As a journalist, I would have been uneasy if a contrary sentence would put my work in question ”.
Farina, a successful book published in 2015, with some 140,000 copies sold, it was later adopted as a television series, broadcast in 2018. It has also been adapted as a graphic novel and play. It narrates the origin and consolidation of the Galician hashish and cocaine clans and Bea Gondar was mentioned twice, on pages 234 and 242, for her relationship with drug trafficking, which led to her suing Carretero in 2016 and to the publisher for violation of honor: he demanded 500,000 euros of compensation, public rectification, spreading the alleged falsehood of the statements, the disappearance of his name from the book and precautionary measures, such as the kidnapping of Farina and the prohibition to print more copies, both were partially estimated, in February 2018, by the titular judge of the Court of Instruction number 7 of Collado Villalba (Madrid).
“The kidnapping of the book was something specific, a mistake, something strange, because the rest of the judicial decisions have all been meridians in our favor”, added the journalist. In fact, in the presentations in other countries – the book has been translated into seven languages - Carretero points out that “it was striking, for example, in Portugal or Italy” that the work had been kidnapped. “The star question was the strangeness by that measure, but I got tired of explaining that it was not something usual, that books are not kidnapped here, and that there was a lot of indignation.”
The former mayor of O Grove had caught hold of this nail in his lawsuit: that convicted by the National High Court for a crime of drug trafficking, the sentence was revoked by the Supreme Court when the testimony of a repentant was invalidated, for which Bea Gondar was acquitted. Later, however, he was convicted in 2005 of a crime of money laundering from drug trafficking.
For three months, Fariña’s copies could not reach new readers due to their judicial kidnapping. Until June 22, 2018, the Provincial Court of Madrid lifted this measure. The following month, Judge Mercedes Galindo dismissed the former mayor’s claim, stating that the information in the book was “true.” Bea Gomar then appealed to the Supreme Court, which again has closed the doors to her claims. After the decision known today, the publishing house Libros del KO has launched the following tweet: “After almost four years of judicial process, the Supreme Court has proved us right. “Dismisses the cassation and extraordinary appeals for procedural infringement filed by Bea Gondar.” That is to say. WE HAVE WON! Congratulations to @NachoCarretero. Game over”.
Carretero has continued to publish his reports in EL PAÍS and, he says, the nightmare experienced by this process has not made him think of self-censorship. “If I have taken something positive, it is to be even more rigorous in my information, so that no one can take advantage of any loophole.” And to the thread he leaves a final reflection on his profession: “Self-censorship is now greater due to the reactions that exist in social networks and in citizens than due to the possibility of a lawsuit.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.