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Individuals who assaulted journalistic team in Tucumán sentenced to time in jail

(FOPEA/IFEX) - FOPEA welcomes the sentencing of the individuals who, in May 2002, assaulted journalists Daniel Malnatti, Gastón Turiel y Miguel Ángel Aspiroz, all members of a journalistic team for the "Caiga Quien Caiga" programme which, at that time, was broadcast by Canal 13.

On 3 July 2009, a criminal court in the province of Tucumán, northern Argentina, sentenced retired police officer Miguel Ángel Chaile to four years and six months in jail, while Juan Jesús Soria was sentenced to four years in jail, for assaulting and issuing death threats against the journalists during a visit by former president Carlos Menem.

The sentence was based on charges of aggravated confinement and uttering threats. The incident took place in an elevator at the Grand Hotel in the city of Tucumán after Malnatti attempted to approach Menem in order to interview him. The former president's supporters pushed and threatened Malnatti and his two colleagues.

The court that issued the ruling intervened after a September 2006 reversal by the Tucumán Supreme Court of a previous decision by a local tribunal that had absolved the journalist's assailants of culpability in the case. The grounds for the sentencing will be made public on 31 July 2009. The two accused will not be detained until that date since the sentencing process has not been finalised.

FOPEA welcomes both the recent court verdict and the previous ruling by the Tucumán Supreme Court since these decisions demonstrate an understanding of the need to defend democratic values and freedom of expression.

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