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Journalist Javier Mandirola assaulted, detained briefly by police after attempting to take photographs of an officer assaulting another person

(FOPEA /IFEX) - FOPEA condemns the actions against Javier Mandirola, a journalist with the "El Territorio" newspaper, based in Posadas, Misiones province, who was beaten by police officers and arrested early on the morning of 8 March 2009 after attempting to take photographs of an officer who was assaulting documentary maker Nicolás Amadio in front of a pub located at the intersection of Buenos Aires and Bolívar streets in the province's capital city.

Mandirola reported that he was hit and detained by officers of the "Comando Radioelétrico", which was confirmed by personnel at the First Division Police Station where he was taken along with four other youths. Mandirola was freed hours later and filed a criminal complaint against the provincial police.

According to Mandirola, Amadio was being assaulted by an officer in the doorway of a local pub. When Mandirola started to take photographs of the incident, the officer, along with others, struck Mandirola in the back, pushed him to the ground, and then, taking hold of his legs and arms, violently shoved him into a patrol car.

A press release from police headquarters, which was intended to excuse the officers involved in the incident, said that one of the youths was not allowed into the pub because of what he was wearing and that this "provoked the anger of the group of youths, who started to insult the police officers who were inside, resulting in a struggle that ended with the youths being detained." The press release continued on to say that, "another man began to take photographs of the incident, hindering the work of the police and ignoring requests from police to leave the area. In addition, he did not provide proof of his credentials when asked for them by police." As such, "he was detained along with the youths and taken to the First Division Police Station."

Mandirola denies that he was ever asked for his credentials and said that he was, in fact, detained without being allowed to present his press card.

The press release issued by the police also said that a misdemeanor investigation had been initiated in response to the criminal complaint that was filed by Mandirola. FOPEA spoke with Horacio Esquivel, of the Misiones Provincial Police Headquarters' press department who said that "because of doubts surrounding the incident, an internal investigation has been opened into the incident involving Javier Mandirola and the other youths". Esquivel stated that "the officers involved will be punished and arrested; they will undergo a criminal investigation."

FOPEA expresses its disapproval of the actions of the provincial police which resulted in the unjust detention of Mandirola, as well as the assault he suffered at the hands of police officers. The organisation calls for the police officers involved to be punished for their actions.

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