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Journalist accused of terrorism assaulted a second time

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 26 November 2010, journalist Juan Alcívar, a correspondent for the daily newspaper "La Hora" and the El Nuevo Sol radio station, was assaulted and threatened, allegedly by Ronald Lara Heras and three other men, in the town of La Concordia, located 318 kilometres from Quito. Lara is a cousin to the town's mayor.

The journalist told Fundamedios that the incident took place at approximately 7:30 p.m., as he was leaving an ice cream parlour with his two children. "I saw a heavy set man, who was apparently drunk, approach me. He began to insult me for no reason and threw a punch at my face."

Alcívar did not know that his assailant was related to the mayor of La Concordia, Walter Ocampo, until he heard Lara say he would "kill the journalist if he continued to speak ill of his cousin."

The journalist said that a few minutes later his assailants attempted to push him to the ground, but local residents intervened and stopped the attack. The attackers then fled in a van driven by Lara.

Alcívar immediately filed a formal complaint at the local police station, where both an incident report and a medical report were drawn up. The journalist believes, however, that the incident report is biased because it does not state that his assailant was drunk. "The police officers hesitated when they realized it was the mayor's cousin . . . they stopped him while he was driving but let him go even though he was drunk", he said.

Alcívar said that he is "living in a nightmare because of the Ocampo family's abuse of power." The journalist believes the attack may have been caused by his interviews that day of people who were complaining about the mayor's absence during the celebration of the town's anniversary. "Maybe that annoyed his cousin," he commented.

This is not the first aggressive action against the journalist. On 30 September, he was assaulted while carrying out his work by Miguel Ángel Moreta, the Municipality of La Concordia's trustee, and Consuelo Landeta, who was with Moreta at the time.

In addition, Alcívar has been accused by Ocampo, as well as two municipal employees, of carrying out a terrorist attack against public officials. Based on these accusations, Judge Kléber Samaniego initially issued an order for preventative custody against the journalist, which was later substituted by an order to appear before the court every fifteen days.

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