REGIONS:

Judge dismisses dubious charges against four journalists in Monclova

(CEPET/IFEX) - The following is an 18 September 2007 statement from CEPET, an interim member of IFEX:

Four journalists exonerated in Monclova, Coahuila

Mexico, 18 September 2007 - Federal judicial authorities have acquitted four journalists in Monclova, Coahuila, in northeastern Mexico, of the dubious charges brought against them by officials who arrested and mistreated the journalists when they tried to cover an anti-narcotics operation in August 2007.

On 7 August, the journalists were arrested and detained by Army troops and members of a special investigative unit concerned with organized crime (Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada contra la Delincuencia Organizada, SIEDO). The journalists were subsequently accused of illegally possessing firearms and drugs.

Sinhué Adolfo Samaniego Osorio and Manolo Acosta Villarreal, of the newspaper "Zócalo", Jesús González Meza, of the newspaper "La Voz", and José Alberto Rodríguez Reyes, of the television station Núcleo Radio y Televisión (NRT) Canal 4, were all informed that the charges against them had been definitively dismissed. The judge could not find sufficient grounds to warrant such charges.

The journalists were detained when they tried to cover an anti-narcotics operation. González Meza informed CEPET that, following their arrest, they were driven around the city blindfolded for 16 hours. "They beat us only a little," he stated. Regarding the pistol, cocaine, and marijuana that the officers claimed they had found in the journalists' possession, González Meza said: "None of that belonged to us."

Sergio Cisneros Vázquez, the director of "Zocalo", commented that the judge's ruling indicated that the charges against the journalists were fabricated. They are still considering filing a formal complaint with the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists (Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos contra Periodistas).

CEPET re-affirms that all attacks against journalists and media outlets are attacks on the citizenry in general, in that they threaten the public's right to information.

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