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Harassment of journalist continues in Tizimín, Yucatán

(CEPET/IFEX) - Wendy Ucán Chan, a reporter for the "Diario de Yucatán" newspaper, reported that she was stopped on the morning of 5 September 2009 by municipal police officers in Tizimín, in the state of Yucatán, southern Mexico, and her vehicle was impounded.

According to Ucán Chan, the incident took place after she and her boyfriend, Ricardo Choc Kumul, left a discothèque in Tizimín. Choc Kumul was driving Ucán Chan's vehicle when they noticed that they were being followed by police patrol cars.

"When we arrived at a dark and uninhabited area, one police car pulled up and stopped in front of us, while another stopped behind us. They told us that they were going to detain us for driving under the influence of alcohol. We pleaded with them not to detain us and told them we were not drunk, but one of them said, 'Sorry, the orders come from above,'" Ucán Chan said.

The officers arrested Choc Kumul and impounded Ucán Chan's vehicle. When the reporter went to retrieve her vehicle, she was hindered from doing so by employees at the impound lot who said that it appeared that it was a stolen vehicle. "When I arrived, the mayor's bodyguards were there, a group from the Public Security Division known as 'the foxes'. I asked them what they were doing there and they said, 'We go where you go.' It made me afraid. At the impound lot they told me that they could not hand over my vehicle because they had not received orders to do so. Afterwards, several police officers arrived to inspect the vehicle. Finally, they talked with the (police) chief and he ordered them to release it," Ucán Chan said.

The reporter added that the mayor's bodyguards then followed her to the "Diario de Yucatán" offices and that, on 3 September, she received a call on her mobile phone which she attributed to the mayor. The caller said, "Reporter, once again you are telling lies."

CEPET previously reported that, on 29 August, police officers harassed Ucán Chan, and, 15 days earlier, the mayor threatened her.

The Tizimín Public Security and Traffic Division sent a letter, by way of the mayor's office, to the "Diario de Yucatán" in which they categorically denied that Ucán Chan is being "harassed" and said that the allegations are the product of the "imagination and persecution complex" of the reporter. The letter also said that the contradiction between what Ucán Chan reported police said to her and what the police officers said in their reports is proof of the deceitful nature of the journalist. Finally, the journalist was accused of distorting the truth for the sole purpose of attacking the image of the municipal authorities.

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