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Journalist assaulted, injured while photographing marble factory

(ABRAJI/IFEX) - Freelance journalist Fabrício Ribeiro Pimenta was assaulted on 30 July 2009 while he was taking photographs of the inspection of a marble factory in the city of Serra, in the state of Espírito Santo. The owner of the factory, Alessandro Carlos Silva Laranja, stabbed Ribeiro Pimenta in the head with a tool, resulting in a wound that required seven stitches. Silva Laranja also destroyed the journalist's camera.

The marble factory was erected in the Praia da Baleia neighborhood, where Ribeiro Pimenta lives, at the end of 2008. Ribeiro Pimenta, who is also a member of a local neighbourhood association, says he spoke to Silva Laranja before the factory was built, in hopes of stopping its construction. The journalist told Silva Laranja that the marble factory would be operating outside of city guidelines since it would be located in a residential area and would produce a lot of noise and toxic dust coming from the stones.

In 2009, Ribeiro Pimenta called the city's environment and noise complaint services several times. The marble factory was inspected and considered to be functioning outside of the guidelines, but it continued operating. The assault on Ribeiro Pimenta took place on the morning of 30 July, when he was documenting an environmental inspection from outside the marble factory. The actions against the journalist were reported to the police's Crimes against Life Unit in Serra.

According to Ribeiro Pimenta, the photographs he took would form part of the material for an item he intended to publish. "I had already spoken with a colleague from Vitória (the capital of Espirito Santo) and he was going to publish the case in the weekly newspaper 'Tempo Novo'," he said.

On the advice of friends, Ribeiro Pimenta left Espírito Santo after he was assaulted. He said he does not feel safe enough to keep working in the state. "I feel that it is a high risk situation," he said.

Ribeiro Pimenta has worked as a journalist for several newspapers, including "Tempo Novo" and "A Tribuna". Since 2000, he has covered stories on crimes against the environment, specially in Serra, the most industrialised city in Espírito Santo. According to the journalist, he has been threatened on a regular basis.

ABRAJI has condemned the actions against Ribeiro Pimenta.

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