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Journalist receives threats, his brother attacked

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - Journalist Oscar de León, a correspondent for the Guatevisión television station's news division, has been harassed and threatened repeatedly after having received a folder from an anonymous source with information detailing accusations against the director of the Quetzaltenango Municipal Transport Police (PMTQ), Manuel Blanco. In addition, his brother was shot at while driving in the journalist's car. The incidents have taken place in the western department of Quetzaltenango.

De León told CERIGUA that, in the first week of January 2011, someone left a folder in his vehicle containing information about the PMTQ director's bank accounts. The information in the folder suggested that Blanco had been extorting money from his subordinates.

The journalist said that he consulted with others before proceeding with an investigation into the allegations as he understood the sensitive nature of the information. He added that he never published the information, but that he privately took the matter up with the mayor, Ronaldo Barrientos. The mayor then held a meeting with the Municipal Council, after which the accusations against Blanco were publicised.

Since then, de León has been repeatedly harassed and threatened. The most serious incident took place on 28 January when his brother was shot at three times while driving in the journalist's car on a local highway. In addition, on 3 February, de León received a message saying, "I forgive you for the damage you have caused. I hope you continue to be successful and you take advantage of it."

De León has received threats both via telephone calls and warnings from his colleagues, who have told him not to go near Blanco because they knew how angry the police official was with the journalist. Owing to the accusations against Blanco, the mayor decided not to renew his contract with the PMTQ, which expired on 31 January. Blanco has initiated legal action again de León.

During a news programme on 1 February, Guatevisión director Haroldo Sánchez said they will hold Blanco responsible should anything happen to their correspondent in Quetzaltenango.


APPEALS TO:

Ruth del Valle
Comisionada Presidencial de los Derechos Humanos
(Presidential Human Rights Commissioner)
2a. Avenida 10-50, zona 9
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2334 0119

Sergio Morales Alvarado
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos
(Human Rights Ombudsman)
12 Avenida 12-72, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2424 1717
Correo-e: [email protected]

Fiscalía Especial de Delitos contra Periodistas y Sindicalistas
(Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Union Members)
Ministerio Público
7a. Avenida 11-20 zona 1, segundo nivel
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2220 6873

Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas Sobre Derechos Humanos para Guatemala
(Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala)
13 calle 3-40 zona 10, Edifico Atlantils, oficina 803
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2382 3410
Correo-e: [email protected]

Carlos Menocal
Ministro de Gobernación
(Interior Minister)
6a. Avenida 4-64, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2362 0237 / 2339 4474
Correo-e: [email protected]

Jaime Leonel Otzin Diaz
Director de la Policía Nacional Civil
(National Police Director)
Dirección General de la Policía Nacional Civil
6a. Avenida 13-71 zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2238 1474

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