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CERIGUA journalist covering corruption and crime receives threatening phone calls

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - On 11 and 12 April 2008, journalist José Pelicó Pérez, a reporter and editor for CERIGUA, received threatening telephone calls from an unidentified individual. The caller told Pelicó that he knew about the journalist's movements, and warned the journalist to "watch out".

In both calls, the caller referred to Pelicó as "José Pérez", using his second surname rather than his more commonly-used first surname. In a strong voice with an accent typical of eastern Guatemala, he first told Pelicó: "You're in trouble. Be very careful; keep your eyes peeled, bastard. We know where you go; watch out, then."

In the second call, on the morning of 12 April, the same voice asked again for "José Pérez". When Pelicó asked the caller the reason for the threats and how he might address the problem, the caller responded: "You'll know well enough when we're standing face-to-face."

In his work with CERIGUA, Pelicó has specialized in the coverage of weighty topics such as corruption, organized crime and drug-trafficking. This work is most likely the motive for the threats.

Ileana Alamilla, the director of CERIGUA and the coordinator of its Journalists' Observatory, condemned these calls as attempts to undermine the right to inform and to be informed. The relevant authorities have been urged to conduct a thorough investigation into the calls, to determine the source and motive and to bring the perpetrator to justice.

Pelicó has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Ombudsperson's Office (Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos) and the Public Ministry (Ministerio Público).

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