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Journalists threatened by mayor and provincial legislator in San Pedro de Jujuy

(FOPEA /IFEX) - On 31 October 2007, public officials from the city of San Pedro de Jujuy threatened two journalists while they were taking photographs of the alleged removal of documents from the city hall. The city is located in the province of Jujuy in northwestern Argentina.

That evening, while a popular religious ceremony was in progress, local mayor Julio Moisés, along with provincial legislative representative Carlos Lops, of the ruling Justicialist Party (Partido Justicialista, PJ), were noticed supervising the removal from the city hall of boxes and bags allegedly containing government documents. Alerted by neighbours, journalists Nora Ruiz, of "El Tribuno de Jujuy" newspaper, and Fernando López, director of "Hechos y Protagonistas" newspaper and Radio Impacto radio station, went to investigate.

Ruiz, in a complaint filed on 1 November with the Ninth Division of the National Police, states that Moisés addressed her in a denigrating and threatening manner, saying, "Watch out, you don't know what's going to happen to you." As the red truck, with the documents inside it, was driven off, "Hechos y Protagonistas" director López arrived. In his deposition, he said that when provincial legislative representative Lops realised that López was present, Lops insulted him, threatened to kill him, and tried to assault him. Lops then got on a motorcycle to try to run the journalist over, according to the complaint filed by López with San Pedro de Jujuy's Fifth Office of the Prosecutor (Fiscalía Número 5).

Mayor Moisés told FOPEA, "I'm unaware of any complaints filed against me. I never threatened a journalist nor did I remove boxes of documents." However, the incident was widely reported in the local media. "I filed a complaint against Nora Ruiz for invasion of private property because she was standing on the city hall roof," added Moisés, who then refused to continue discussing the incident with FOPEA.

López commented that the complaint he filed against Lops is currently at the stage in witnesses' testimony is being taken, although he doubts "they will allow the matter to go anywhere in the justice system."

Lops told FOPEA that he was at the disposal of the justice system, that López habitually makes grossly unfair accusations against him, that Lops had 12 witnesses that refute the journalists' allegations, and that he is willing to answer any questions posed to him.

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