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Court rejects Isabel dos Santo's civil action against Ana Gomes

The Court of Sintra, in Portugal, rejected the civil action filed by Isabel dos Santos against former MEP Ana Gomes for alleged offences to good name and reputation, revealed this Friday the Portuguese diplomat.


The meaning of the sentence was announced by the former MEP on her official Twitter social network account, in a publication in which Ana Gomes said that the court in Sintra considered that "the right to freedom of expression and information of the defendant [Ana Gomes] should prevail over the rights of personality (reputation and good name) of the applicant (Isabel dos Santos)".

In this regard, Ana Gomes continued, the Court dismissed the action brought by Isabel dos Santos.

The case was published by Isabel dos Santos on 14 October, reacting to an interview with Lusa: "Isabel dos Santos is very indebted because she is 'wash' when she settles her debts! And (...) the Bank of Portugal doesn't want to see...".

In an interview that same day, Isabel dos Santos told Lusa that she works with several banks and that she wasn't favoured because she was the daughter of former President José Eduardo dos Santos.

"I have a lot of debts, I have a lot of financing to pay, interest rates are high, it's not always easy to have this sustainability of the business as well, to be able to face all the financial part of the business, but also good teams and we work for this", said the businesswoman in an interview in Cape Verde.

After the first 'post', Ana Gomes accused the businesswoman of using EuroBic (the bank of which she is a shareholder) to legalize her money: "What a way to (...) shareholder Isabel dos Santos the @banco_eurobic! It's in the swift network and in the Eurozone".

According to the sentence, dated 16 January and to which the Lusa agency had access, the Action with Form of Special Process for Personality Protection, filed by Isabel dos Santos, intended that publications and comments online be withdrawn for offending her "good name, image, honor".

The request was also a financial penalty of five thousand euros for each day of delay in complying with the aforementioned decision.

The Court found that both Isabel dos Santos and Ana Gomes "are influential people of Portuguese society" being "undoubtedly" Isabel dos Santos a person subject to public scrutiny "for having large investments in several Portuguese companies with crucial importance in the financial sector, particularly in banking.

On the other hand, the Court held that, as Ana Gomes is "an informed person with powers in the area of money laundering and corruption, she must be recognised as having the right to expose situations which she considers could harm the public interest".

The sentence also considers that Isabel dos Santos' reference in the referred publications and comments is "only at the level of strictly professional conduct and does not fail to make reference to the Bank of Portugal, CMVM and the Public Prosecutor's Office, these being the targets of censorship of the tweets, as she considers that they are not fulfilling their respective duties of investigation".

For the Court, Ana Gomes' conviction is also based on "various material she has collected, namely in investigative journalism articles, to which she adds her professional knowledge".

"Since she is not required to prove completely the truth of the facts, but only the rational plausibility of such evidence, in order to put pressure on the supervisory and investigating bodies to investigate the genesis of the applicant's assets and investments in Portuguese companies, her right of expression should not be limited", she states.

Therefore, the Court concluded, "in view of the circumstances of the case in question, the right to freedom of expression and information should prevail over the rights of personality (reputation and good name), and the requisite measure should therefore be rejected".

The court also ordered Isabel dos Santos to pay 30,000 euros in procedural costs.

The trial of the civil action began on 19 December in the Local Civil Court of Sintra.

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