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Honda city councillor assaults woman television station director

(CESO-IFJ/IFEX) - On 27 February 2008, journalist Sandra Patricia Troncoso was assaulted by city councillor Osvaldo Martínez, in the city of Honda, Tolima department. The incident occurred at 1:15 p.m. (local time) just after Troncoso began videotaping the council session.

Martínez, a councillor with Mayor Carlos Arce's coalition, shouted, "Stop recording, stop recording, stupid!", then threw himself on top of the journalist, pushing her while covering the camera lens with his hands. While trying to take the camera away from her, he hit her in the eye, all of which was recorded on film.

Troncoso, who has been the director of the local TELMEX television station in Honda, Mariquita and Puerto Bogotá for seven years, told the IFJ Solidarity Centre (CESO-IFJ) that Honda's municipal administration is generally hostile toward the press, but that the attack on her goes beyond the acceptable limits. She also mentioned another incident which took place on 18 February during a carnival, when Culture Secretary Hernán Rodríguez gave an order for television cameras to be put down during the main act, threatening to suspend the activities and claiming that he owned the event.

Commenting on the attack on Troncoso, Eduardo Márquez, executive director of CESO-IFJ and also the president of the Colombian Federation of Journalists (Federación Colombiana de Periodistas, FECOLPER) said, "We will request that the national Attorney General's Office (Procuraduría General de la Nación) and the prosecutor's office (Fiscalía) severely punish this cowardly action taken by a public official. There is no justification for the attack, first because city council is a public place and also because its debates are public events conducted by public officials. But the most unacceptable part of the incident is the use of violence. Ten days ago journalists were impeded in covering a public event, and yesterday a journalist was pushed and struck. What can we expect tomorrow? We demand that the attacker be punished."

FECOLPER represents over 1000 journalists in 18 departments of Colombia. IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

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