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Journalist who is facing legal proceedings assaulted by public servant

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 30 September 2010, Juan Alcívar, a correspondent for the newspaper "Diario La Hora" and a journalist for the El Nuevo Sol radio station, was assaulted by Miguel Ángel Moreta, municipal trustee of the municipality of La Concordia, and Consuelo Landeta, who was with Moreta. The incident occurred in La Concordia, a town located 318 Km from Quito, while the journalist was covering a story.

Alcívar told Fundamedios that he was taking photographs outside a Banco de Pichincha branch for a story on a demonstration by police officers protesting the loss of work benefits and bonuses when he was insulted and slapped by Landeta, who was inside a vehicle. She also tried to snatch his camera, breaking one of the lenses during the struggle. At the same time, Moreta, who was in the same car, got out and started kicking Alcívar while insulting him at the same time.

On 17 September, Moreta and Walter Ocampo, mayor of La Concordia, filed a lawsuit against the journalist accusing him of "terrorist aggression against public officials", and of being responsible for setting off a teargas canister when President Rafael Correa was visiting the district on 19 July. The journalist's accusers requested that he should be sanctioned "with the maximum prison sentence" and ordered to pay damages.

Alcívar has also been accused of committing the same actions by two municipal employees. Quinindé's Fourth Criminal Magistrate Judge, Kléber Samaniego, originally issued an order for preventive custody based on this accusation, which after a month was changed to an order for the journalist to appear before the court every fifteen days.

The journalist said that the attack by Moreta was an act of retaliation against him. After the incident, Alcívar filed a complaint against the public servant with La Concordia's Judicial Police.

Fundamedios condemns the assault by the municipal trustee. Combined with the legal actions against Alcívar, this can be seen as harassment and a persecution of the journalist in an attempt to intimidate someone who has become known for his criticisms of Mayor Ocampo's administration.

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