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Argentinian journalist's home attacked with molotov cocktail

(FOPEA/IFEX) – 20 August 2012 – The Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA) urgently calls for justice in the attack suffered by journalist Silvio Novelino, director of the monthly "El Pepiri" in the city of Bernardo de Irigoyen, Misiones, and asks local authorities to guarantee freedom of the press.

Novelino reported that, after having received a series of threats, in the early morning of 20 August 2012 a molotov cocktail was thrown at his car, which was in the garage next to his home, where his family was sleeping.

The journalist said he heard a loud bang, and when he got up, saw smoke coming out of the garage. As he reported to a Misiones media forum, "At 3 a.m. this morning someone tried to set my car and home on fire. Fortunately I was able to get the car into the street and put out the flames with my fire extinguisher, otherwise the consequences would have been worse - both for my home and my family."

The Misiones chief of police, Jorge Héctor Munaretto, told FOPEA that the police is watching over Novelino's home and he has sent someone to Bernardo de Irigoyen to head the investigation.

Novelino said that his paper has published a number of reports on corruption in Bernardo de Irigoyen, a city of 6,000 people located on the border with Brazil. He is certain this attack is linked to his work as a journalist.

According to Novelino, he recently reported that ownership of a city square was handed over to a local official, for which the journalist received threats from the son-in-law of a former councilor. "The family of the councilor took possession of the land after an unusual decision by the former council, and they are now building a house on the site. The son-in-law harasses me whenever he sees me, but I had no proof to file a complaint. The square was a public space that was requested by the neighbours and the mayor had given them his word that they could have access to it. Later, the former councilor's daughter asked for the land and the council gave it to the family, probably in exchange for political favours. There was a complaint from the neighbours," Novelino explained.

The journalist also said that he frequently gets threats for his work, and that in April he was specifically barred from covering city council sessions, something FOPEA had reported on previously.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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