SANTIAGO – Chilean lawmaker Gaspar Rivas was found guilty on Friday of aggravated slander against Andronico Luksic, one of the nation’s most powerful tycoons, whom he called a “son of a bitch” and a “criminal.”
Luksic, whose family owns mining company Antofagasta Minerals, Banco de Chile, beverage maker CCU, vineyards and other companies, in return sued Rivas, an independent legislator, who first used that offensive language in Congress and later repeated it in interviews with the media.
Rivas, who made his verbal attack following a flooding for which he accused one of the companies of the Luksic group, refused to retract his statements.
On the contrary, Rivas had said in Congress that Luksic is “so powerful, so rich and with so much influence that he feels free to flood Santiago.”
He was referring to a hydroelectric dam that one of Luksic’s companies was building near Santiago that had caused the Mapocho River to overflow its banks, resulting in millions of dollars of flood damage in the capital.
Rivas based his defense on the fact that his remarks were insults and not slander against the entrepreneur.
Last Monday, at the start of a hearing against Rivas in Santiago, Luksic was attacked as he left the court by demonstrators opposed to the construction of that hydroelectric dam, and consequently did not attend Friday’s reading of the verdict.
“About the participation of the defendant in the incidents, no doubt exists that practically all the evidence presented by the plaintiff identifies him directly as the perpetrator of the slander published in the media,” said the verdict handed down by Judge Daniel Aravena.
Rivas, who had asked that his status as a member of the government be set aside in order to defend himself “without any privilege,” will hear his sentence next Dec. 28, the judge said. The plaintiff has asked that the lawmaker get three years in prison plus a fine.