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Finnish broadcasting company staff await court ruling

Senior Finnish broadcasting company professionals will find out tomorrow if judges accept that their defamation convictions breached free expression human rights law.

The applicants, Juha Ristamäki and Ari Korvola, are two Finnish nationals who were born in 1969 and 1953 and live in Espoo (Finland) and Helsinki, respectively. They both work for a Finnish broadcasting company, where Ristamäki is an editor and Korvola is his immediate superior.

The case concerns their conviction and liability for defamation. In February 2006 the company the applicants work for aired a programme about investigations into economic crimes. During the broadcast it was mentioned that in the course of their investigations the police wanted to know whether a sports centre had been funded by K.U., a well-known Finnish businessman.

In December 2007, Ristamäki and Korvola were charged with defamation by a public prosecutor and K.U. claimed compensation for defamation in the same proceedings. The applicants contested the charge and the claim on the grounds that all of the information in the programme had been correct.

However, they were convicted of defamation in May 2008 and ordered to pay K.U. EUR 1,800 in compensation and EUR 1,500 in costs. After one unsuccessful appeal the Finnish Supreme Court refused the applicants leave for a second appeal in December 2009.

Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Ristamäki and Mr Korvola complain about the Finnish courts’ judgments against them.

The European Court of Human Rights will announce its decision in the case Ristamäki and Korvola v. Finland (no. 66456/09) on Tuesday 29 October.

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