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FOPEA condemns death threats against journalists in Reconquista, Santa Fe

(FOPEA/IFEX) - 13 May 2012 - FOPEA demands an investigation into the death threats received by Ester Lutz and Gustavo Raffin, of Radio Diez based in Reconquista, on 10 and 11 May 2012. The organisation also calls on the local mayor, Jacinto Raúl Speranza, to work towards calm and not to encourage verbal or physical attacks on the press.

FOPEA welcomes a quick response by the provincial government (led by the Frente Progresista Cívico y Social, the party that Speranza belongs to) and stresses the need for an immediate end to the threats against these journalists, who were provided with safety measures.

Lutz and Raffin told FOPEA that they suspect people close to the mayor and the Secretary of the Treasury, Pablo Fabrissín, of being behind the threats because of their journalistic investigation into irregularities and overinflated costs related to the patenting of vehicles by cabinet members.

On Friday 11 May, around 7:15 a.m., Lutz, who hosts a morning programme on Radio Diez, saw that someone had opened the gate to her home, scratched a message on the hood of her car reading "go ahead and die, you bitch" and left an unmarked parcel.

Lutz immediately called the police who arrived with the bomb squad to open the parcel. Inside there was a bullet cartridge and a message that said the assailants were aware of her child's movements. Lutz said she and her family are very frightened. She plans to report the incident to the federal justice department on 14 May and her family is under police protection.

Previously, on 10 May at 6:15 p.m., while he was on air hosting Reconquista Hoy on Radio Diez, Raffin received a handwritten death threat slipped under the door of the station. It read: "Rafin, watch your tongue and your life. Stop fooling around, we know what you're up to and you and your family will be sorry. We know what to do."

Raffin read the threat on air and reported it to police. He also wrote online about how a councillor for the ruling party, Rolando Galfrascoli, had insulted him during a council session. He told FOPEA that such threats have been uttered by municipal officials over the last few days and continue to take place despite widespread condemnation of such incidents.

Raffin also told FOPEA that the provincial vice-governor, Jorge Henn, had called him and Lutz to express his support and condemn the threats against them. Both journalists filed statements with police.

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