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Police officer held in preventive detention for assaulting camera operator

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 24 October 2008, police officer David Leytón Alborta was placed in preventive detention for having assaulted a camera operator in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, eastern Bolivia. The decision calling for preventive detention of the police officer was made by judge Roque Leaños after he evaluated evidence presented by the Santa Cruz Press Workers' Federation.

Leytón was accused by the Press Workers' Federation of having assaulted Megavisión television station camera operator Iván Justiniano with sticks and stones. The event took place on 19 August when several journalists were covering confrontations between groups that support and groups that oppose the government of Evo Morales. On the day of the assault, Leytón was dressed as a civilian and had infiltrated the pro-government group. A photographer for the "El Deber" newspaper captured the moment in which the police officer hit the camera operator with a stick. The photograph was subsequently published on the front page of "El Deber". When the photograph was published the fact that the person assaulting the journalist was a police officer was not known.

The officer was not identified until October thanks to television images provided by a local station that filmed him when he was on duty with the Physical Security Battalion.

On 20 October, Leytón was detained on orders issued by the Santa Cruz Prosecutor's Office after a suit was filed by the Press Workers' Federation. On 24 October, after a preliminary hearing, judge Roque Leaños issued an order calling for Leytón's preventive detention in the Palmasola jail until enough evidence is gathered to bring the case to trial.

Leytón is accused of criminal association, attempted murder and violating the right to work and the right to freedom of expression.

Updates the Justiniano case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/96385

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