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Journalist beaten, believes assault is linked to corruption allegations against mayor

(ABRAJI/IFEX) - Journalist Wellington Raulino, the owner of Integração TV, reported that he was the target of an assassination attempt on the afternoon of 5 October 2009, in the city of Uruçuí, Piauí state. According to Raulino, he was chased and assaulted by men armed with sticks and a gun. The journalist was wounded and is still undergoing medical treatment. He believes that the mayor of Uruçuí is behind the crime.

Integração TV is located in the city of Benedito Leite, in Maranhão state, which is separated from Uruçuí, where Raulino lives, by the Parnaíba river. Ferry services join the two cities. According to the journalist, he was parking his car on the Uruçuí side of the river in preparation for crossing when he realized a man with a gun was headed in his direction. Raulino immediately jumped into the river and hid himself under the ferry.

"Without air, I had to emerge. I tried to run away, but I could not move well because my pants were wet and I fell down", the journalist said. "At this point a group of people came and started to beat me with sticks and the barrel of a gun," he said. According to Raulino, one of the men threatened to shoot him, but people at the scene stopped the attackers, who then fled.

"There were several witnesses who recognized the attackers. One of them was identified as Gilliard, the brother of Uruçuí's mayor, Valdir Soares da Costa," Raulino said. The journalist said he has accused Soares da Costa of diverting public funds and believes he is behind the attack.

Raulino filed a complaint about the attack in Teresina, the capital of Piauíl. The journalist said he has met with the authorities, including the Security Secretary and even the governor of Piauí, Wellington Dias. Thus far, nobody has been arrested.

Integração TV has been off the air since 10 June, when all of its equipment was burned in a fire. "The suspects (in that crime) were the same", Raulino said, "A car rented by city hall was used to transport the attackers. The ferry's internal circuit camera recorded everything."

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