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Journalist and his family receive death threat in Antioquia

(FLIP/IFEX) - On 27 July 2007, a threatening notice was sent to the home of journalist Sergio Mondragón, in Envigado municipality of Medellín, Antioquia. The authors of the letter threaten to kill the journalist, his romantic partner and his daughter. Mondragón had previously received threats in March.

This latest threat was received days after a number of national media outlets published the results of an investigation examining irregularities in the sale of the Antioquia Distillery (Fábrica de Licores de Antioquia, FLA). In the media reports an individual named Alirio de Jesús Rendón Hurtado, alias "El Cebollero", who is involved in the sale, is accused of financing a group of hitmen in Envigado and of being behind the murder of businessman Gustavo Upegui, one of the owners of the Envigado soccer team.

Mondragón previously received threats on 13 March 2007, after reporting on certain problems connected with the FLA sale. The programme was broadcast by Antioquia University's cultural radio station. An FLA employee who had been invited to speak on the programme subsequently received a call on his mobile telephone during which he was personally threatened and also told: "tell that Sergio Mondragón from the Antioquia University radio station that we are going to 'break him'."

On the same day, the Judicial Police (Dirección de la Policía Judicial, DIJIN), acting on orders from the Attorney General, captured 21 hit men of the "La Unión" gang who were allegedly connected to Alirio Rendón. An order for Rendón's arrest was then issued but he went into hiding and remains at large.

Mondragón's programme and the police's failure to arrest Rendón prompted the media to launch an investigation into the FLA matter and publish their findings.

FLIP calls on the authorities to investigate the threats against Mondragón and his family. The threats are clearly connected to the journalist's accusations and the national media outlets' reports. FLIP urges the authorities to provide the journalist with protection.

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