Vladimir Kokorev Files Civil Claim Against El Pais Journalist Jose Maria Irujo
On the 18th of May 2012, businessman Vladimir Kokorev filed a civil claim for defamation against El Pais journalist, Jose Maria Irujo, opening the door to a possible criminal libel suit if an agreement between the two parties cannot be reached.
Russian businessman, Vladimir Kokorev, has filed a civil claim for conciliation in the courts of Madrid against El Pais journalist, Jose Maria Irujo, for his involvement in publishing a number of articles in which he accuses Vladimir Kokorev and his wife Yulia Kokoreva of money laundering more than 26 million Euro for the president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang.
The claim, which has been assigned to the First Instance Court nº 34 of Madrid for examination, is seeking a public acknowledgement from Mr. Irujo that the accusations made by him against Mr. Kokorev in over a dozen articles published in the Spanish daily “El País” over a period of three years were in fact false and without merit. In addition, Mr. Kokorev is seeking monetary compensation from Mr. Irujo, in the minimum amount of EUR 30,000 in accordance with Spanish Supreme Court case law.
Pursuant to Spanish law, a civil conciliation claim is a mandatory prerequisite for filing a criminal claim for libel. The court does not examine the merits of the claim, nor does it rule in favor of either party. In this instance the court will act as an overseer of the attempt made by the claimant to reach a satisfactory agreement with the defendant and enforce such agreement if it is reached. In the event that no agreement is made, Mr. Kokorev will be entitled to file a criminal action for libel against Mr. Irujo.
Mr. Kokorev’s civil claim comes just a little more than a month after the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) reported that Moscow’s Lyublinsky City Court had ordered one of Spain’s largest and oldest newspapers, El Mundo, to refute similar accusations made against Mr. Kokorev in an article published in 2009. In his claim Mr. Kokorev sustained that all the monies paid to Kalunga (a former shipping company owned and managed by Mr. Kokorev) by the Treasury of Equatorial Guinea were received legally and in accordance with the agreements entered into by Kalunga and the government of Equatorial Guinea. Over the course of the hearings the court established that the accusations made by El Mundo were false, ruling in favor of Mr. Kokorev. The first instance court ruling was afterwards confirmed and upheld on appeal.
Mr. Irujo’s article published on April 28th of this year entitled “Uncovering the Front Men of Obiang’s Clan (Destapados Testaferros del Clan Obiang)” reproduces, almost word for word, the accusations originally made by El Mundo in 2009.
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