Emído Rangel addressing the parliamentary commission

Landmark ruling over ‘press freedom’ sees Portugal condemned to pay €50,000 to heirs of deceased journalist

TEDH, the European Court of Human Rights, has condemned the Portuguese State to pay the heirs of deceased journalist Emídio Rangel more than €50,000 for having been (wrongly) forced to indemnify two judicial syndicates.

Mr Rangel’s ‘fines’ were levied following declarations he made to a parliamentary commission on the theme of press freedom.

He criticised “alleged political interference” in the syndicates – claiming judges and prosecutors committed “constant violations of Secrecy of Justice in sensitive cases of a political nature”, explain reports..

As a result, the two syndicates concerned – ASJP (the association of Portuguese judges) and SMMP (the Syndicate of Public Ministry Magistrates) lodged legal actions that saw Mr Rangel condemned to pay €56,000.

Now, seven years after Mr Rangel’s death, TEDH has ruled the condemnation was “a violation of press freedom (article 10) consecrated in the European Convention for Human Rights”. 

TEDH’s ruling describes the damages set as “totally disproportionate” and designed to have a “discouraging effect on political discussion”.

The court equally considered that Portuguese courts did not base their decisions “adequately” – “and that everything that took place was not necessary in a democratic society”, writes Lusa.

The ruling means that Mr Rangel’s daughters, who paid part of his fines following his death, stand to be finally reimbursed, if not in full.

This shocking case goes back to 2012, when Mr Rangel, a former director of RTP and later SIC, founder of TSF Radio and considered by his peers as a visionary, was condemned to pay €50,000 to each of the syndicates and fined a further €6,000.

Lisbon’s criminal court ruled that he had acted with ‘intent’ and made declarations considered offensive to the two judicial organisations.

An appeal saw the Court of Appeal in Lisbon reduce the indemnities to €10,000 per syndicate, but the syndicates both appealed to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, which bumped them up again, this time to €25,000 each.

Now, the Portuguese State will be required to close this unedifying chapter. 

TEDH has condemned Portugal to pay Emídio Rangel’s daughters €31,500 for ‘material damages’ and €19,874.23 for costs and expenses – a sum total of €51.274,23.

Emídio Rangel died following a battle with cancer in August 2014. 

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