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Journalist receives death threat in Sucre; another journalist sued for defamation and slander

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 23 October 2008, journalist María Victoria Bustamante, of the legal section of "El Meridiano de Sucre" newspaper, received death threats from unidentified persons, through several phone calls. The events took place in the municipality of Sincelejo, Sucre department, northern Colombia.

According to what Bustamante told IPYS, the threats began after the newspaper took on the case of an attack on a relative of the department's former governor, Salvador Arana, who has been detained for his alleged links with the paramilitary.

The journalist reported the threats to the authorities, who have not yet established the origin of the calls. The Department of the Interior is evaluating whether or not to provide Bustamante with protection.

In a separate incident, "El Espectador" newspaper journalist, Norbey Quevedo, must appear in court on 18 November to answer for the alleged crimes of defamation and slander in the Sixth Local Unit of Bogotá's 126th Prosecutor's Office. The suit was filed by attorney Lydia Elisa Nieto Méndez, who represents businessman Luis Guillermo Ángel Restrepo. Ángel Restrepo was mentioned in an investigation published by Quevedo in May in which the businessman is linked to the deceased leader of the Medellín cartel, Pablo Escobar Gaviria.

The investigation makes reference to the political and financial strategies being used by Ángel Restrepo in his company, Helicargo S.A., in order to re-activate his aeronautic activity within the country. Ángel Restrepo was annoyed that his background and his links to Escobar Gaviria were mentioned in the report.

The businessman threatened Quevedo with a lawsuit if he did not withdraw the report from the newspaper's webpage. Quevedo urged him to use his right to reply, but Ángel Restrepo resorted to the law.

In his 15 years as a journalist, this is the first time that Quevedo - who recently won the "Simón Bolívar" National Journalism Prize - has been summoned by a judge.

Quevedo stated that the trial is Ángel Restrepo's revenge and that he will hold the businessman responsible if anything were to happen to him or his family.

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