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Journalists of critical radio station in Jutiapa receive death threat

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - On 31 March 2008, Radio Tamazulapa journalists Alberto Sandoval, Milton René Polanco and Leonel Humberto Díaz received an anonymous written death threat. The incident took place in Jutiapa, in Guatemala department, 168 kilometers from the capital city.

According to CERIGUA's sources, Radio Tamazulapa has distinguished itself for its hard-hitting criticism of public officials and the current government. It is suspected that this reporting prompted the threat. However, it also bears noting that organised crime groups are prominent in the department.

Sandoval, Radio Tamazulapa's director, stated that the journalists will file a complaint with authorities, although he does not expect that local justice officials will follow up. He asserts, nonetheless, that the station will not abandon its critical reporting style.

Elmer Guerra, assistant to the Human Rights Ombudsperson's Office (Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos) in Jutiapa, plans to bring the threat against Radio Tamazulapa staff to the attention of authorities in the capital city. She will also raise an earlier incident involving one of the above journalists, Polanco, who was assaulted in 2007, given that that case has not yet been resolved by the departmental prosecutor.

Polanco was beaten by Melvin Leiva, husband of the then-secretary of the national hospital in Jutiapa, after the journalist published a story in which he accused her of taking two-hour lunch breaks and treating others in an arrogant manner.

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