On November 12, Information Disputes Council released an opinion on the court case, filed by Lernapat Village Elder Vano Yeghiazarian versus Adrineh Torosian, correspondent of “Hetq” online (Hetq” was involved in the case as a third party). As we have reported, Vano Yeghiazarian contested the piece by Adrineh Torosian, “The Word “Graze” about Village Elder Is Worth 1 Mln”, published in “Hetq” on August 23, 2011. Initially, in addition to the demands of a refutation and apologies, the Lernapat Elder claimed in his suit on the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation moral damages in the amount of 1 million AMD (about $ 2,600). Later, the plaintiff virtually abandoned his financial claims versus the respondent and demanded only 1 Luma (the smallest Armenian currency). On May 29, 2012, the Court of General Jurisdiction of Lori Region revoked the suit, binding Vano Yeghiazarian to pay off the respondent’s court costs in the amount of 150,000 AMD (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, May 25-31, 2012).
The IDC noted that the contested piece reported about an ongoing civil case. The wordings, assessed as insult by the plaintiff and used in the article and its title, are a good-faith reproduction of public statements, made at court proceedings, thus, the journalist is exempt from responsibility for them, the IDC emphasized.
Referring to the decision of the European Court on Human Rights, Jersild v. Denmark, September 23, 1994, the IDC reminded that the journalist is free to adopt the technique of reporting. Nevertheless, there are some professional requirements for choosing an article’s title. The title should attract the readers’ attention and express the contents of the piece. In this particular case, when reading the article’s title, a reader could have the wrong impression that the main subject of the court dispute is the statement included in the title and could have an overall impression about the journalist as being biased, the IDC stressed.
The opinion of the Information Disputes Council is available in Armenian and in English at http://www.ypc.am/expert/ln/eng.