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Telemaya journalist, camera operator receive death threats in La Entrada

(PROBIDAD/IFEX) - In the early hours of 18 April 2008, three masked and armed men entered the premises in La Entrada of Telemaya television station, tied and gagged a machine operator and a visitor, and left a death threat against journalist Carlos Chinchilla and his camera operator. La Entrada is located in Copán, a department in western Honduras. Telemaya is broadcast on Channel 12.

Chinchilla - Telemaya's director - reported the incident to the Committee for Free Expression (Comité por la Libre Expresión, C-Libre), because his believes his life and that of cameraman Marlon Dubón are in serious danger, given that this was the second death threat they received in fewer than three days.

"I fear for my life and don't know what to do," said Chinchilla, indicating that the first death threat was conveyed in a note, and that the actions on 18 April represent an alarming escalation.

Chinchilla received the first threat on the morning of 16 April, in a note left inside the station premises. He filed a complaint about the incident with the General Bureau for Criminal Investigations (Dirección General de Investigación Criminal, DGIC)

Chinchilla said that he is not certain who is behind the death threats, but recalls that in 2007 he received death threats from organised crime groups in retaliation for Telemaya's coverage of a police operation in the area in which a series of stolen cars and electrical material, and other evidence, were seized. Telemaya was the only media outlet that dared to cover the operations.

The suspects in that police case are members of "Los Hidalgo", a criminal gang that operates in the region and has close ties to organised crime. Among the stolen cars that were recovered was a vehicle belonging to the deputy mayor of Santa Rosa de Copán, Rafael Rodríguez

Chinchilla added that, since receiving the threats in 2007, the station has been very cautious in its coverage of news related to organised crime, no longer touching on the topic directly, and abstaining from attending some police raids.

In 2003, journalist German Antonio Rivas was murdered as he was leaving his news programme in the city of Santa Rosa de Copán, becoming the first journalist to be murdered in Honduras in 25 years. His murder is still unpunished; the direct perpetrators have been identified, but are on the run from the authorities.

This alert was prepared by PROBIDAD with information provided by C-Libre.

For further information on the Rivas case, see:

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