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Journalists receive death threats after reporting on prison fire

(C-Libre/IFEX) - 24 February 2012 - Journalists working for local channel Catedral TV, which is broadcast via Digicable in the city of Comayagua, in central Honduras, have been receiving death threats and are being followed after they reported on the prison fire that happened in 14 February and resulted in the deaths of more than 350 prisoners.

Journalist Luis Rodríguez and camera operator Javier Villalobos, as well as the channel's owner, Juan Ramón Flores, have received threats via phone calls and messages to their cell phones. "The messages are clear, they tell us to stop talking about the issue or we will be killed, and stop talking about the fire or they will set us on fire," said Flores.

According to Flores, the videos shown on the Catedral TV programme “Sálvese Quien Pueda” showed, among other things, that an hour and a half after the fire started, the prison cells were still padlocked. They also have statements from fire fighters who said that the people who called them about the fire were people living in the area and not the penitentiary police.

According to the channel's owner, after they started showing images of the fire, his press team started to experience a high level of harassment.

Flores said that a couple of nights earlier when Villalobos was at a funeral, a group of people attacked the camera operator and broke his camera. "These actions indicate that they want to silence us because we have recordings that show what really happened during the fire," he said.

"To mar the good work of my journalists, they are carrying out a smear campaign against me and linking me to drug trafficking," said Flores.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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