(ANP/IFEX) - 19 July 2011 - On 18 July 2011, Richard Romero Cossió was detained by police who were acting on an arrest warrant issued by a judge. Romero was accused of "insult to authorities" (desacato) in relation to the contents and promotion of a video about the activities of President Evo Morales as the head of a coca growers association in Cochabamba. Morales has held this position since 1988.
Romero, who identifies himself as a journalist, was arrested as he was selling the video on a street in La Paz. Although his status as a journalist has not yet been confirmed, according to information available from local sources he studied communication sciences at the Evangelical University of Bolivia.
Article 162 of the Bolivian Criminal Code characterises "desacato" as libel, slander or defamation against a public official in the exercise of his or her duties. The charge carries a possible sentence of one month to two years of detention. If the charge involves insult to the president, the sentence can by increased by 50%.
Romero spent the first night of his detention in a cell at the Special Crime Fighting Unit (Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra el Crimen) headquarters, and was scheduled to appear before a judge.
(Please note this is an abridged translation.)