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Journalist assaulted, receives death threat in Quilmes

(FOPEA /IFEX) - On 29 December 2008, at approximately 8:00 p.m. (local time), journalist Roberto Carrigall, editor of the "El Mástil Digital" online newspaper, in Quilmes, Buenos Aires, was threatened and physically and verbally assaulted by two individuals with probable links to Marcelo Iglesias, a former Quilmes transit system official. Iglesias was director of the transit system when Sergio Villordo, of the Peronist Party (Partido Justicialista), was the mayor of Quilmes.

According to Carrigall, two individuals approached him at a gas station at Hernández and Mitre Avenues in Quilmes. They stepped out of a black BMW vehicle, which is allegedly owned by Iglesias, and demanded that Carrigall give them the two packages of cigarettes that the journalist had in his hand. They then proceeded to insult him and threatened him with death, while telling him to stop making comments about "Marcelo" in his journalism work. They said, "You know who we are talking about, no?", then slapped him several time in the face while asking him questions about his brother, Néstor, who died a year and a half ago. While the assault was taking place, Carrigall saw Iglesias watching from inside the black BMW.

According to information obtained by the journalist, one of his assailants may be a former police officer from the Ezpeleta area who is known as "Pepe Parada". He was only able to determine that the other assailant is called Matías.

Carrigall filed a complaint about the actions against him at the First Division Police Station in Quilmes. His case was taken on by Esteban Manco, the head of the Quilmes court system's 16th Prosecutor's Office. In his complaint Carrigall stated, "I expressly hold Marcelo Iglesias responsible for any similar actions that may take place against me or my family."

FOPEA tried to contact Iglesias on several occasions to obtain his version of events and allow him to respond to the accusations against him, but he could not be located at the FM La Máquina radio station which he owns.

Carrigall told FOPEA that he and several of his colleagues were threatened and mistreated when Villordo was in power as mayor. Villordo even criticised Carrigall on a radio programme and made inappropriate comments when Carrigall's brother, Néstor, who was also a journalist, died. Meanwhile, Iglesias filed a complaint against both Néstor and Roberto Carrigall after they published an article alleging that he had erased entries from a registry containing information about the circulation of vehicles owned by the transit system. Iglesias lost his case when it went to court.

FOPEA expresses its support for Carrigall and its concern for his safety. The organisation strongly urges the Quilmes and Buenos Aires authorities to investigate the actions against the journalist.

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