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Journalist receives death threat

(FLIP/IFEX) - On 19 January 2010, Javier Gómez Garcés, a former presenter with the local television station Telepetróleo, was held up and threatened by an armed stranger in Barrancabermeja, Santander province, eastern Colombia.

The journalist was on his way to the mayor's office on the night of 19 January when a man put a gun to his waist and said, "Journalist, don't be brave. The cemetery is full of brave men." The suspect also stole documents and cash that Gómez had on him at the time.

Fearing for his safety, the journalist has left the city.

Gómez, who worked at Telepetróleo up until December 2009, told FLIP that his show had addressed several complaints from the community about public works projects by the local administration that had not been finished.

The station's news director, Idamis Acero, told FLIP that she did not know what could have prompted the threat. However, she confirmed that Gómez had aired the complaints on his show, and that no other journalist at Telepetróleo had been threatened.

The case was brought to the attention of the regional Ombudsman's Office (Defensoría del Pueblo Regional) in Barrancabermeja. Gómez also reported the incident to the National Attorney General's Office.

FLIP was unable to reach the Magdalena Medio police commander, Colonel Germán Perdomo Vargas, for comment.

FLIP is concerned about the threat against Gómez. There were six other incidents against journalists in Barrancabermeja in 2009. FLIP calls on the authorities to protect Gómez and urges the Attorney General's Office to speed up the investigation so that those responsible for the threats are identified.

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