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Honduran journalist fears for safety after uncovering financial corruption

(C-Libre/IFEX) - 2 August 2012, Tegucigalpa, Honduras - "Of course I fear for my life, but I know I am doing what is right," said Ariel D'Vicente, a journalist who uncovered that a million lempiras (approx. US$53,000) seized from the wife of the former finance minister, Héctor Guillen, had come out of a sum of 3.2 million lempiras (approx. US$170,000) in royalty payments collected from shrimp companies in southern Honduras and paid out to an official high up within the Lobo Sosa government.

D'Vicente told the national press that he is aware of the seriousness of his accusations, but added "it is my role as a journalist to report on corruption and as a citizen I have to speak out against financial scandals that impact my country's health and education."

Police commissioner Juan Carlos Bonilla, and the National Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras (CONADEH), Ramón Custodio, decided to provide the journalist with the necessary support to protect his safety.

Both officials were in agreement that because of these allegations, D'Vicente's life is in danger and that the federal authorities must investigate the matter and protect the journalist. The first step, according to the commissioners, is to provide security measures for D'Vicente and his family.

The Public Prosecutor's Office announced that the journalist will be the main witness in the inquiries into the financial matter, so that at this time D'Vicente is prohibited from commenting on the investigation.

On 31 July 2012, during a routine operation at a post in El Durazno, police seized 1,125,000 lempiras (approx. US$60,000) from the wife of the then minister of finance. The woman, her son, and their driver were freed by the district attorney's organized crime office, but the money was seized by the district attorney pending investigations.

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