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Journalist's car fired upon amid post-electoral tensions

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is concerned about the safety of television host Juan Bonilla Martínez, of the privately-owned station Mega Visión 43, whose car was fired upon in front of the television station in the northern city of Santiago de los Caballeros on 21 May 2008. RSF calls on the government to protect journalists better. The attack came five days after President Leonel Fernández was reelected amid political tensions.

"This is not the first time Bonilla Martínez has been targeted," RSF said. "The safety of the country's journalists has sharply deteriorated in the past two years and the authorities have not always taken proper steps to deal with this. The enquiry into this latest attack must show the government is serious at the start of its new mandate."

On the morning of 21 May, while Bonilla Martínez was hosting his programme "En Hora y Media", two men on a motorcycle fired three shots at his car, which was parked in front of the station. The journalist blamed the attack on the political tensions in the wake of the 16 May elections. "They won't scare us and we won't change our editorial policy," he said.

He noted that a few days earlier a window of his car had been smashed by stones. The car of his wife, journalist Nelly Mirabal, was also damaged in March while parked outside the office of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (Partido de la Liberación Dominicana) in the city.

Bonilla Martínez is a former editor of the regional daily "La Información" and was a local correspondent for the national dailies "Hoy" and "El Nacional". He was also head of the regional branch of the national journalists' institute (Colegio Dominicano de Periodistas, CDP) and is currently executive director of a journalists' think-tank.

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