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National Telecommunications Commission returns seized equipment

(C-Libre/IFEX) - On 28 October 2009, the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) returned equipment which it had seized from the Radio Globo radio station and Canal 36 television station on 28 September, in flagrant violation of Article 73 of Honduras's constitution. The equipment was seized after a decree suspending constitutional rights, including the right to freedom of expression, was issued.

The Radio Globo equipment was returned to the station's owner, Alejandro Villatoro, in the presence of personnel from the Human Rights Prosecutor's Office and the National Criminal Investigations Unit. Human rights prosecutor Dione Bustillo said that CONATEL agreed to return the equipment and personnel from the prosecutor's office were there to verify that it was returned in good condition. Villatoro, however, said that the equipment was damaged, some devices were missing and that they still needed to find out if the computer files are complete. He added that the equipment was handled roughly when it was seized and that some of it may have been lost in transit. He said the officials who conducted the seizure were responsible for the damages.

The CONATEL officials who returned the equipment refrained from commenting when asked by C-Libre to make a statement.

Canal 36 Cholusat journalist Esdras Amado López said that all of his television station's equipment was returned undamaged but that the financial losses and damages from the 22-day long closure of the station were incalculable.

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