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Misiones radio station off the air following arson attack

(FOPEA/IFEX) - 18 November 2011 - Early in the morning on 18 November, transmission equipment belonging to the Sapucay FM radio station was destroyed in a fire that is believed to have been intentionally set. The station is located in the Alba Posse municipality, in Misiones province, near the border with Brazil.

Owner Vitalino Acosta told FOPEA he believes the fire was intentionally set because the station's electrical equipment had been completely replaced in March, and the system includes a safety mechanism that prevents short circuits. Provincial police are investigating the incident.

Sapucay FM is no longer broadcasting and Acosta could not say when the station would be back on the air as he does not have sufficient funds to cover the repairs which would amount to US$15,000. Fifteen people work at the station and its absence from the airwaves will have a significant impact in the region, as it is one of the main stations in the border region.

While Acosta has no proof, he told FOPEA he believes the incident is linked to the station's reporting. The station has been under attack for some time for its critical reports on the Alba Posse mayor, Nelson Carvalho. The mayor has his own programme on another local radio station, during which he has urged listeners to not support the "devilish" Sapucay FM. In June, Carvalho burst into the station's premises and attacked two journalists over their reporting. Moreover in March, some Sapucay FM journalists received death threats from individuals believed to be linked to the mayor.

Acosta added that in 2003 assailants had cut the cables linking the station to the transmission tower, while in 2005 the transmission tower was knocked down.

FOPEA calls on the Alba Posse and provincial authorities to promptly investigate the incident.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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