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FOPEA condemns assault on member of television programme team by head of local government in El Bolsón

(FOPEA/IFEX) - FOPEA condemns the actions of Oscar Romera, the head of the local government in El Bolsón, Rio Negro, against Gonzalo Ariel Rodríguez, a member of the "Caiga Quien Caiga" (CQC) television programme team. On 8 July 2009, Romera verbally and physically assaulted Rodríguez during an interview in his office for a segment called "Proteste Ya".

At the time of the assault, Rodríguez was conducting an investigation into the transfer of the local airport to a new location, an issue about which many El Bolsón residents are concerned. During the interview, Romera began raising the tone of his voice and insulting Rodríguez, arriving at the point of taking off his jacket, grabbing Rodríguez by the neck and saying, among other threats, "Don't be an idiot with me, I'm more crazy than you know."

The incident was caught on camera by the CQC team and was broadcast by Telefé television station on 13 July. The footage also shows presumed Romera supporters kicking and pushing the CQC camera operator and producer outside Romera's office.

Rodríguez told FOPEA that he is considering filing a complaint with the police but his lawyers have not yet decided which of the many possible charges should be brought against Romera. Rodríguez also noted that, in his opinion, the public prosecutor should be filing charges in the case as well. Finally, Rodríguez said, "We are thinking about returning to El Bolsón, not to obtain an apology, but to listen to the people, so that this case (referring to the airport issue) is not forgotten."

FOPEA calls on the authorities to take action to ensure that this type of attack on freedom of expression is not repeated.

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